Credit: Eva Mueller

Eva MuellerChances are you or a loved one will experience one of the following symptoms. Warning signs like shortness of breath or unexplained throat pain may seem minor but could be deadly. Call 911 for numbers 1 and 2; see a doc immediately for 3 and 4.

1. Fainting or shortness of breath These may signal a clot in your lungs known as a pulmonary embolism (PE), a condition that leads to about 60,000 deaths per year. Keep in mind: Weight gain may increase your PE risks.

2. Unexplained throat pain It could be a heart attack. Women often report jaw and throat discomfort, nausea, sweating, and unexplained fatigue before an attack, whereas classic symptoms like chest and arm pain are more common in men. Every year heart disease kills 16,000 American women younger than 55 and puts 40,000 in the hospital, according to the American Heart Association.

3. Unusual vaginal bleeding Beyond normal menstrual flow or the spotting that comes with new contraceptives, bleeding you notice in your underwear or clothing can signal ectopic pregnancy, cervical inflammation, or even uterine cancer, says William Fuller, MD, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Presbyterian/St. Lukes Medical Center, Denver.

4. Persistent tummy trouble If you have diarrhea, cramping, or rectal bleeding, dont wait weeks for it to vanish. Those symptoms could be signs of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohns or ulcerative colitis), which increases the risk of colon cancer. Even ovarian cancer can appear first as chronic gastrointestinal issues like pressure, bloating, indigestion, and constipation.