By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Communication is important in all aspects of life but it is rarely more important than in the case of medical information.

Think about a heart attack patient. There are classic warning signs including crushing pain in the chest. Some people describe the pain as if an elephant is standing on their chest. Other symptoms include pain radiating to the jaw or down the left arm, but this is not always the case.

In fact, the classic examples aren’t always classic. Some people feel very little pain, or they experience a sense of indigestion and sweating. This is particularly true when it comes to women.

We have learned over the years that many women have vague symptoms and can ignore heart attacks. This can be a deadly mistake because ignoring a heart attack means the heart is supplied with very little oxygen and can slowly die, never returning to its former self. People can become extremely weak and many do die.

The message here is that you need to communicate your symptoms and your physician needs to know how to process it.