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This Viral Twitter Thread Shows Heart Attack Symptoms Women Should Look Out For

The symptoms can vary between genders.

One US woman is on a solo Twitter mission to educate all of us about the symptoms of a heart attack, after she suffered one on Sunday despite not feeling any chest pain.

The woman, who went on to say she was "older" and a nurse, added that she still missed the symptoms because, rather frighteningly, “it wasn’t what you read in pamphlets.” Instead, she had burning and aching pain in her upper back, shoulder blades and eventually down both arms. “I actually thought it was muscle strain,” she wrote. “It wasn’t until I broke into drenching sweat & started vomiting that I called 911.”

The woman, who goes by the handle @GeeWheezie, said she had spent a week helping her neighbour “clean out her barn” then driving six hours to help her mother in another state. “I thought I strained some muscles,” the woman notes. She took some painkillers and “put a warm pack on my shoulders. I almost died because I didn’t call it chest pain … I thought I should go to a doctor but I had to help my mom who is 90 and I’d just tough it out because it wasn’t real bad.”

READ MORE: Identifying And Treating Heart Attacks May Get A Lot Easier

Her story has been retweeted 32,000 times already, with people telling their own stories about the terrifying lack of knowledge when it comes to how heart attacks present in women, with many medical personnel adding messages of support and info, and even US politicians adding their thoughts.

So what are the symptoms of heart attacks that women should be aware of?

Women are less likely to have full blown chest pain and more likely to have “subtler” symptoms for three or four weeks before a heart attack, said doctors from the Cleveland Health Clinic in the US. This includes uncharacteristic tiredness, especially after simple activities and shortness of breath and sweating. The clinic also noted pain in the neck, back, jaw and both arms as a symptom that should raise the alarm for women.

Dr Kean-Seng Lim, AMA NSW President agreed, and added, "The key feature of a heart problem or angina is a change in the symptoms with exercise. Increased shortness of breath, tiredness, sweating, neck pain, arm pain or jaw pain which are coming on when you're exercising -- all show we need to be very cautious about ruling out heart disease."

READ MORE: Women More Likely To Die From Heart Attack If Treated By Men

And what exactly is the difference between heart disease and a full blown heart attack?

"A heart attack is when there is a blockage in one of the three arteries that supplies blood and oxygen to the heart -- it's when that artery is block up to a point that there is damage to the muscle of the heart," said Dr Lim. "Angina or coronary heart disease is when there is a reduction in the blood flow and therefore the oxygen flow to that part of the heart muscle, and it typically causes an alteration in the function of the heart muscle. This can cause your heart to beat less efficiently or for you to get chest pain or tightness or heaviness."

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in a report called Women and Heart Disease from 2010, two in every 100 females and four in every 100 males have coronary heart disease.

Feature Image: Getty.