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Women’s heart attacks aren’t like men’s

February 24, 2020 | Womens Health Care

"I’ve always lived a healthy lifestyle," says Tasya Lacy from Columbus, Ohio, who has been teaching hula-hoop fitness classes for years. Yet, the day before Easter 2016, at age 50, she had a heart attack.

"I was exhausted and felt like I pulled muscle in my back," Tasya, now 54, recalls. "My husband rubbed my shoulders and felt my heart racing. He told me we we're going to the hospital. I didn’t think I needed to.”

Doctors found 99% blockage in Tasya’s main coronary artery, requiring three stents.

It’s common for women to miss signs of a heart attack because they present differently from men. A man is more likely to have chest pains, a woman may experience flu-like symptoms: nausea and vomiting, excessive sweating, exhaustion, or pain in their arm or back.

Listening to your body could be the difference between and life and death. Literally. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), cardiovascular disease is the No. one killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year. Often because they ignored the symptoms. And, 20% of women age 45 or older who have who have a heart attack will have a second heart attack within five years of their first.

CVS Health is the national presenting sponsor of Go Red for Women — the American Heart Association’s heart health movement to end heart disease and stroke in women.

MinuteClinic® offers chronic care management and preventative care all year long, including measuring risk factors for heart disease. “We’ve expanded our available health care services for patients with certain chronic conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure,” shares Angela Patterson, Chief Nurse Practitioner, MinuteClinic. “Our providers are able to screen, assess, treat and monitor these conditions, as well as order lab tests, recommend lifestyle changes, prescribe medications and educate patients about their conditions.”

There's one more risk factor exclusive to women: menopause.

"The combination of estrogen and progesterone before menopause seems to provide a protective element against heart disease in women," explains Allan Stewart, MD, Medical Director for HCA East Florida’s Miami-Dade Cardiovascular Surgery Programs. However, once a woman goes through menopause, her risk of heart attack increases significantly.

Tasya was post-menopausal when she had her heart attack. Now she knows a simple truth about her health — when in doubt, always seek medical care.

Get proactive with preventive care

Visit a MinuteClinic to learn your personal health numbers — a starting point for a discussion with your health provider on your risk for heart disease: Total cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI).

Visit to learn more.