BOSTON (CBS) – Heart attacks in women may have different causes and symptoms, and some risk factors may be even more dangerous in women than men. That’s according to a new, first-ever statement from the American Heart Association.

Three years ago, Marsha Goodbaum felt nauseous and had stomach pains. She finally headed to the hospital hours later.

“I had no idea I was having a heart attack,” says Marsha. “I really expected shoulder pain or heavy chest pain.”

A new scientific statement from the American Heart Association says there can be some key differences between men and women when it comes to heart attack symptoms.

Dr. Harmony Reynolds of NYU Langone Medical Center says explains, “Most women will have some kind of discomfort in the chest when they are having a heart attack, but it may not feel like they expect it to feel….But there is usually discomfort somewhere in the chest area, and or in the neck, the jaw the back the upper stomach.”

This is the first time the American Heart Association has put out a statement on heart attacks in women, which says women often have different causes, including the type of plaque buildup. Some risk factors can also be more harmful in women, like diabetes and high blood pressure.

One year later, Marsha had the same symptoms and another heart attack. This time she didn’t wait.

“I tell my friends if they have stomach pain, or slight nausea, don’t hesitate. I hesitated. I’m glad I’m alive after that,” says Marsha.

She continues to manage her high cholesterol and high blood pressure with medication, diet and exercise.

The report also says that black and Hispanic women are more likely to have heart attack related risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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