Symptoms of Heart Attacks in Women

Symptoms of Heart Attacks in Women

Last update: 07 August, 2015

All women face the threat of a heart attack, but knowing about the symptoms is the first key to protecting yourself and the women around you.

You would think that heart disease was more of a men’s issue than a women‘s issue, but in actual fact, more women die of it than men! The thing is that some of the symptoms are actually different between the sexes, so it’s important that, as a woman, you know what to spot.


Symptoms of heart disease in women

1. Chest pressure

Chest pain isn’t a symptom that everyone experiences during a heart attack. Chest tightness is a common sign, though. Look out for the sensation that someone is sitting on your chest. If you experience chest pain or pressure, you or someone who’s with you should call for an ambulance as soon as possible.

Also known as angina, chest pain or pressure happens because there isn’t enough blood getting into a part of your heart. Something has probably blocked the arteries for this to occur, preventing oxygen-rich blood from entering one of your most vital organs, your “ticker”.

Angina may just disappear quickly, but it can also be a cause for concern and immediate action. There are three types to look out for:

  • Stable angina. Stressful situations and/or physical activity can set it off, but it usually only lasts for a few minutes, and then it goes away once you rest. This is a sign that you might have a heart attack in the future, and is something you’ll want to discuss with your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Unstable angina. This can happen at any time, and the pain could be intense and last for longer. It might come back on a regular basis, and can be a signal that you’re having a heart attack. See a doctor as soon as you can!
  • Prinzmetal’s angina (or variant angina). This is much rarer, and could occur during the night while you’re asleep. The arteries close to the heart can tighten and narrow, causing a lot of pain and it’s important that you get it treated.

2. Acute pain in the upper body: neck, back, jaw

The pain and tightness experienced with heart disease has a reputation for travelling down the left arm, but it can also appear in other spot, including:

  • the teeth or jaw
  • the throat
  • the back or shoulders
  • the upper abdomen.

Watch out for pain in all of these places.


3. Extreme fatigue and shortness of breath

Exhaustion and shortness of breath are signs that your body needs to rest and repair, or that you have heart problems. These symptoms can start to appear a long time before a heart attack occurs, so watch out for it and get yourself checked out as soon as you start to feel exhausted and out of breath easily.


Light-headedness and dizziness, sweating can also occur with heart disease, so watch out for them too.

4. Stomach ache

Many people experience mild indigestion and other tummy issues before they have a heart attack. Many elderly people already have to deal with these issues, so it’s worth watching out for these symptoms alongside the other signs and symptoms of heart disease and heart attack.

Nausea and vomiting are also signs of heart disease.

Taking into consideration all of these symptoms together is a good way to spot if you have heart disease or are about to have a heart attack. Note them down so you will remember them more easily. Doing this could help to save a person’s life!


To prevent getting heart disease in the first place, it’s important to eat less cholesterol, salt and saturated fat. Maintain a healthy weight and quit smoking if you’re a smoker. Exercise for between 30 and an hour every day most days of the week, and up to 90 minutes if you need to lose weight. Find something you like doing like hiking or walking your dog in a beautiful, natural place. Reduce the amount of stress in your life wherever you can. Try not to worry unnecessarily.

A healthy life is an enjoyable life, and you’ll be able to spend more time with loved ones when you take care of yourself.