Women's Heart Attack Symptoms

Women often experience new or different physical symptoms as long as a month or more before experiencing their heart attacks. These symptoms are often different from men's. In addition to the usual symptoms experienced by both sexes, women can experience abdominal discomfort or indigestion and maybe a burning sensation in the chest or upper abdomen. Their symptoms are also usually more subtle. Women experience chest pain occur less frequently than do men. Doctors have to be careful to make sure they do not miss a woman's signs during the office examination. Because women's symptoms are often misdiagnosed, they are far less likely to be treated with aspirin, beta-blockers, and other heart-attack prevention medications. This places them at greater risk due to a lost of time to seek medical attention. Knowing these symptoms creates an awareness for physicians and the public alike.

These symptoms include:

    * Slight discomfort in the chest
    * Uncomfortable pressure
    * Shortness of breath
    * Unusual fatigue
    * Cold sweat
    * Nausea
    * Dizziness
    * Fainting
    * Pain below the left shoulder blade
    * Back pain
    * Tingling in the jaw, elbow, arm or throat
    * Pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, jaw or arms

Less common signs in women:

    * Atypical chest pain
    * Stomach or abdominal pain
    * Unexplained weakness
    * Fatigue
    * Anxiety Palpitations
    * Cold sweat or paleness

Both women and men may have "classic" chest discomfort, pressure or tightening that grips the chest and spreads to the shoulders, neck or arms. However, women can also experience: abdominal discomfort/indigestion burning sensation in the chest or upper abdomen. Women's symptoms tend to be less obvious than men's. Women's symptoms include a burning pain or heavy pressure in the chest instead of the vice-like pressure which many men get.

Heart disease remains the number one reason for death in both men and women. Because many women don't even know that they have heart disease, it's important to know the early warning signs and when it's time to see your doctor. Heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases claim the lives of more than half a million women each year in the United States. Heart disease sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Heart attacks, or myocardial infractions (MI), are the most dramatic manifestation of cardio vascular disease. MI's will affect approximately 345,000 American women this year. These symptoms are your body's way of telling you trouble is coming. Women push through their routines for hours or days, using antacids and over the counter pain relievers to mask MI symptoms. Women tend to report more nausea, indigestion, fatigue and pain that affects the chest, neck, jaw, shoulders and upper back. Women present themselves with nontraditional symptoms of stroke 62% of the time - much more frequently than men. Women are more likely to report pain as a symptom of their stroke, including chest pain, and sudden face or limb pain. Women may experience hiccups and heart palpitations during a stroke, which are more rare in their male counterparts. Women are also more likely to die from their heart attack. Women under 50 who were hospitalized for heart attacks were twice as likely to die from their heart attack than men. Women need and should pursue aggressive diagnostics for heart attack symptoms.


Diagnosis is accomplished via an electrocardiogram which details distinctive changes. Indigestion or a "panic attack" is a common diagnosis. A stress test can make a diagnosis that you have blocked arteries. In the past women have been overlooked when it came to the diagnosis, detection, and treatment of heart disease that resulted in negative health outcomes. Today, women no longer have to accept these inequalities. General knowledge of women's signs of heart attack can be effective in overcoming past misdiagnosis of women.


Women get less of the recommended medicines and procedures than men and can take longer to get them. Women are much more likely than men to die within a year of having an attack. Women do not seem to do as well as men after taking clot busting drugs or undergoing certain heart related medical procedures. While more women than men die of heart disease, women undergo fewer cardiac surgical procedures. A recent discovery is that women's hearts and capillaries tend to be smaller than men's. This has lead to a redesigning of catheters and devices used in angioplasty and other procedures to meet women's needs.


Symptoms which are most common in women include fatigue, sleep disturbance and difficulty breathing, including shortness of breath, discomfort in shoulder blades, dizziness, nausea and painful indigestion. Heart attack symptoms follow a common pattern. Symptoms such as chest tightness and shortness of breath seem to be less common in women. Symptoms can be relieved with bed rest and by keeping well hydrated. Symptoms of a coronary, on the other hand, include severe pain in the chest and elsewhere in the upper torso, shortness of breath, nausea, and death. Early recognition of these signs will improve the chances of a woman surviving the heart attack. In the long run, there has to be improvement in the early diagnosis of heart disease in women.
About this Author

Bobby Gill is a survivor of a heart attack on Christmas night 2007 and now writes original articles about his experiences and self study of heart disease. He has wide-ranging experience in many national organizations in the Federal Government as a computer specialist, database administrator and computer scientist. His current work is in Configuration Management involving the release management of corporate software. This article is copyrighted by Bobby Gill. It can be reprinted freely online as long as the entire article and this resource box are included. Read up on heart disease and help to protect yourself by reading about heart attack symptoms here! You are invited to share heart related experiences at my blog [http://bwgill.blogspot.com/]