Can You Tell Which Woman In This Photo Is Having A Heart Attack?

Critical info for every woman.

group of women photo credit Linda Johns Linda Johns

My father was walking through a sporting goods store in San Francisco when he collapsed and died of a heart attack. It was about a month before his 68th birthday.

Linda Johns is a very successful author of middle-grade novels (including the Hannah West mystery series) and is a librarian and someone who exercises regularly, eats reasonably well, and doesn't smoke. She's also someone who recently had a heart attack.


RELATED: 9 Heart Attack Symptoms You Should Never, Ever Ignore

Can you tell which woman is having a heart attack?

Photo: Linda Johns


Linda is the woman in the middle with the glasses. She may look fine but she's having a heart attack.

Linda wrote on her blog, "My heart attack was not the Hollywood kind where someone (almost always a man) grabs his chest and doubles over in pain. Every one of my symptoms was one that would stand on its own as a possible heart attack; all of my symptoms are ones that could be and often are, dismissed by healthcare professionals, let alone people having them. When I walked into the ER, I listed them quickly and specifically."

An article on Prevention lists the seven symptoms of a heart attack in women as follows:

1. Extreme fatigue

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In the days or even weeks before a heart attack, more than 70 percent of women experience debilitating flu-like exhaustion.


2. Pain

Sometimes it can be a crushing pain, but often for women, the pain is more like pressure or achiness — and it's not always in the heart region. This pain can occur in the breastbone, upper back, shoulders, neck, and jaw. Linda experienced a stabbing back pain between her shoulder blades. She also had pain radiating down her left arm to her little finger and ring finger.

3. Profuse sweating

You can be completely drenched or have a pale or ashen face. Linda writes that she told the ER (after listing her symptoms), "And I said, 'A friend said I looked ashen.'"

4. Nausea or dizziness

Prior to a heart attack, women often have indigestion or have to throw up. You may also feel as if you're going to faint. Linda vomited once she got home from the book event.

5. Breathlessness

Panting and the inability to carry on a conversation are heart attack signs.


6. Sleep issues

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Trouble falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night can happen in the weeks before a coronary.

7. Anxiety

If you experience a sense of impending doom or fear, it could be your body warning you.

The heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI) was caused by a tear in an artery wall, or what's known as a spontaneous coronary artery dissection or SCAD. SCADS occur mainly in women who are fit and healthy, with an average age of 42, and there's no definitive research on why they happen.

After her heart attack, Rose O'Donnell came up with a jingle to help people remember the signs of heart attacks in women. It's sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's "Raindrops on Roses" and goes like this:


"Chest pain or neck pain, your jaw or your shoulders,
If you have pain in either one of your boulders,
If you're tired like never before,
Call 9-1-1, get your ass out the door!"

Rosie also came up with the acronym HEPPP for the symptoms Hot, Exhausted, Pain, Pale, and Puke.

"I was surprised how many of the women in my life didn't know how different women's and men's heart attack symptoms are," Linda said. "I'm happy when friends and coworkers ask me about my experience because I think it helps to get the word out. They might think they're being intrusive, and I may think I'm being boring talking about my heart, but the truth is we're just sharing information that could save someone's life."


Hopefully, more people will be able to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack in women and get the woman to the hospital in time.

RELATED: The Factor That Can Predict Exactly How Long You'll Live

My father didn't survive when he had a heart attack, but hopefully, I will if I ever have one.

Christine Schoenwald has had pieces in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, Purple Clover, YourTango, XoJane, and Bustle.