Women differ in heart attack, stroke symptoms

Story Image

High-tech resources: In Porter's Center for Cardiovascular Medicine cardiac catheterization labs, advanced equipment and technology are used to treat cardiovascular conditions in women. | Supplied photo


Cardiac and stroke screenings

To help give patients a comprehensive “snapshot” of their heart health, Porter County Hospital’s Center for Cardiovascular Medicine offers Comprehensive Cardiac and Stroke Screenings. “Through early detection, many patients are able to avoid serious — or life-threatening — conditions,” said Terri Gingerich, director of the center’s Cardiology Service Line.

The $85 screenings include:

PAD (peripheral artery disease) screening of lower extremities.

Echocardiogram to evaluate cardiac structure and function.

Carotid exam to examine any plaque buildup in the carotid arteries which can lead to strokes.

AAA (abdominal aortic aneurysms) screening.

EKG Single-lead EKG strip to assess heart rhythm abnormalities.

Labs to reveal cardiovascular health, including lipid screening, CRP (C-reactive protein) screening, and blood sugar screening.

Screenings take less than an hour and findings are reviewed by Porter’s staff of cardiologists. Complete results are available in a week to 10 days and include comprehensive information to help patients better understand the results.

To schedule your screening, call (219) 983-8310.


Together, more than 70 million American men and women live every day with some form of heart disease, which can include high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, angina (chest pain), heart attack and congenital heart defects. Yet, men and women may experience these conditions in different ways.

“Women often experience more subtle symptoms of heart attack or stroke,” said Terri Gingerich, director of the Cardiology Service Line for Porter Regional Hospital’s Center for Cardiovascular Medicine. “While we’ve known it for years, medicine is now confirming it: Women are different from men,” she said.

For example, a study by the National Institutes of Health shows that fewer than 30 percent of women reported having chest pain or discomfort prior to their heart attacks, and 43 percent reported that they had no chest pain during any phase of the attack. Instead, women were more likely to report non-traditional symptoms, such as unusual fatigue (70.6 percent), sleep disturbance (47.8 percent), and shortness of breath (42.1 percent).

“Too often though, women are looking for classic symptoms and may ignore their subtle symptoms,” Gingerich said. “These symptoms shouldn’t be ignored, particularly when they persist or are without any other explanation. When you put off dealing with a small problem, you compound it into a major problem over time. Get a handle on it. Bring it to light early,” she advised.

Early heart attack care education

The Center for Cardiovascular Medicine also provides education to women on early heart attack care and advises that one or a combination of the following symptoms usually appear within 24 hours before the acute attack, but can begin two to three weeks before.

Classic heart attack symptoms

Chest discomfort

Chest pressure

Chest ache

Chest burning

Chest fullness or tightness

Other common symptoms





Shortness of breath

Neck/back/jaw pain

Feeling of doom

Provided by Porter Regional Hospital