Heart attack symptoms in women

Jay FitzOur Town Health

For years, health experts have warned that women more often have atypical heart attack symptoms. Chest pain or discomfort signal a heart attack in anyone. But other signs – such as neck or back pain, breathlessness and indigestion – have been thought to strike more women than men.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Women are more likely to have atypical and subtle symptoms during a heart attack, including:

  • You may feel tired for days without a clear reason.
  • Dull Pain. While chest pain is the most common sign, you may feel pain or discomfort in your neck, back, jaw or stomach.
  • You may vomit or feel sick to your stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. You may have a hard time breathing, even when sitting down.
Heart Attack Symptoms in Men

Men are more likely to experience the typical symptoms we associate with heart attacks, including:

  • Severe chest pain. You may feel like someone is squeezing your heart or like you have a large weight on your chest.
  • Shooting pain. You may feel a pain shooting down your left arm.
  • Cold sweat. You may break out in a cold sweat.

Regardless of your gender, if you suspect you might be having a heart attack, call 911. Every second counts.

Things You Can Do To Prevent a Heart Attack:
  • Quit smoking.Smokers have twice the risk for heart attack compared to nonsmokers.
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.Eat plenty of produce. Most women should fill half of your plates with vegetables and fruits. Studies link diets high in fruits and vegetables with lower blood pressure and a reduced risk for heart disease
  • Set exercise goals. Strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. This can be done in 30-minute chunks, 5 days a week. Exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease. It can raise your good cholesterol and lower your bad cholesterol.
  • Reduce stress.High blood pressure and other signals of stress affect our whole body, including our heart.
Signs You Are Having a Heart Attack

No matter your gender, any symptoms of heart attack should be taken seriously. If you notice these signs in you or in someone else, call 911 right away:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain in the jaw, neck or back
  • Feeling light-headed, faint or weak
  • Arm or shoulder pain
  • Shortness of breath

Treatment to restore blood flow to the heart works best within the first hour. Swift help can mean the difference between life and death.

Looking for a cardiologist? Find a doctor on CovenantHealth.com.

Meet Hunt Anderson M.D.

Hunt Anderson, MD, interventional cardiologist at Cumberland Cardiology, spoke on Women’s Heart Health on Friday, February 16, 2024, at Cumberland Medical Center’s annual Go Red Lunch.

Hunt Anderson M.D.

Dr. Anderson is a board-certified interventional cardiologist with Cumberland Cardiology. He is affiliated with Cumberland Medical Center in Crossville, Tennessee.

Dr. Anderson completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He completed his fellowship in cardiovascular diseases at Washington Hospital / University of Massachusetts Medical School (interventional cardiology) in Washington, D.C. Info: 931-484-5141, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. CST.

Covenant Health provided information and quotes for this report.


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