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Women’s Heart Attack Symptoms May Differ From Men’s

shutterstock_192307088_230resizeChest pain and shortness of breath have long been well-known signs of a heart attack. According to the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, these symptoms are based on men’s experiences.

We DO know that women have higher risk of dying from a heart attack than men. This is mainly due to that fact that women don’t realize that they are having a heart attack and delay their treatment, according to the American Heart Association.

Recently, medical studies have concluded that fewer women experience chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack than men. With that said, it is safe to say that both men and women differ when it comes to heart attack symptoms.

We are not saying that women will not experience chest pain as a symptom of a heart attack, but rather that they should be on the lookout for other symptoms, such as nausea, indigestion and heart palpitations — in addition to shortness of breath and back pain.

Based on a recent study, half of women had no chest pain at all during their heart attack. Fatigue and shortness of breath were the most common symptoms. These symptoms can be misinterpreted as not serious.

According to Marcus St. John, M.D., an interventional cardiologist at Baptist Cardiac & Vascular Institute, “Both women and men may have typical symptoms of heart attack, including chest pain or pressure often radiating to the shoulders, arms, neck or jaw and shortness of breath. These symptoms are usually made worse with exertion or stress. There are, however, several atypical symptoms of a heart attack and these tend to be more common in women.”


The common heart attack symptoms for men and women:

  • Discomfort, tightness, uncomfortable pressure in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes, or comes and goes
  • Crushing chest pain
  • Pressure or pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, upper back, jaw, or arms
  • Dizziness
  • Clammy sweats
  • Unexplained anxiety, fatigue or weakness
  • Stomach or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing


Heart attack symptoms found to be more common in women:

  • Pain in the arm
  • Back, neck, or shoulder pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Overwhelming and unusual fatigue, sometimes with shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Excessive sweating


Know your heart attack symptoms. It could save your life.

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