Heart Attack Signs For Women

When we imagine a heart attack it can often look like clutching your chest and falling to the floor, but the symptoms don’t always present this way. When women are having a heart attack they often think they are experiencing flu symptoms or acid reflux. Understanding the complexities of heart attack symptoms and how they can be different between men and women is a necessity for keeping your heart healthy.

Are heart attack symptoms different between men and women? 

Yes, women and men have different heart attack symptoms. You might not have been taught the differences in school because most heart disease research in the past was primarily focused on men. Women’s symptoms are important to know because women often ignore the early signs of a heart attack, thinking it’s a sign of something else, and wait much longer to seek help which can be dangerous.

Heart Attack Symptoms 

The most common symptom between men and women is chest pain.

Symptoms of a heart attack for women:

  • Pressure or pain in the center of your chest
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Gas-like pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Throat pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Unusual fatigue lasting several days or sudden unusual fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Anxiety

Symptoms of a heart attack for men:

  • Intense chest pain/pressure
  • Upper body pain and discomfort
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Stomach discomfort that feels like indigestion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Cold sweat

In recent years, researchers have found specific symptoms women over 50 may experience, including:

  • Severe chest pain
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Sweating

If you’re experiencing heart attack symptoms consider going to the doctor immediately.

Risk factors and Causes for women 

Obesity, inflammatory diseases, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are risk factors affecting both men and women. There are other factors that may play a bigger role in the risk of women developing heart disease such as:

  • Menopause: lower levels of estrogen equals an increased list of diseases in blood vessels.
  • Diabetes: women with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease than men. Another reason this is dangerous for women is that they may mistake heart attack symptoms for diabetes symptoms and wait longer to seek help.
  • Emotional stress and depression
  • Smoking
  • Pregnancy complications: high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy may lead to a long-term risk of heart disease.
  • Family history of early heart disease

The causes of a heart attack are very similar between men and women. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the main cause, to learn more about CAD check out our article about the symptoms of heart disease.

When to see a doctor

If you are at high risk for heart disease, it’s important to regularly go to the doctor and track your health.

If you think you’re having a heart attack or are experiencing symptoms, call 911 immediately.

How to improve your heart health

There are universal things everyone can do to improve their heart health, such as:

  • Managing stress levels
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Knowing your blood pressure
  • Know your cholesterol
  • Check for diabetes
  • Quit smoking
  • Be physically active
  • Limit how much alcohol you drink

Making big lifestyle changes starts with changing daily habits. Eating healthier, exercising regularly and lessening smoking and drinking alcohol are changes you can implement daily. Going to the doctor regularly is also very helpful to know if you have one or several risk factors.

Check out our website to learn more about heart health and heart-healthy recipes.

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