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What are the symptoms of a heart attack in women?

Women are more likely to have sudden, sharp-but-short-lived pain outside the breastbone during a heart attack. They also may experience shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, back or jaw pain and unexplained fatigue or malaise.

Deb Cordes
Deb Cordes on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Specialist

Symptoms of heart attack may be different in women. That’s why understanding the symptoms of a woman’s heart attack is important. Getting immediate medical treatment is vital to avoid serious problems or death with heart attack.

Until the age of 55, men are much more likely than women to have a heart attack. But a woman’s risk of heart attack goes up sharply after menopause. A woman’s heart attack may not start with a sudden pain. Instead, the heart attack may start mildly or cause discomfort. A woman may feel uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain that may come and go. In addition, a woman with a heart attack may have shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. Other signs may include upper back pain and upper abdominal pain, nausea, light-headedness and sweating.

 

The warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack are different in women than men. According to WomenHeart, The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, heart attack warning signs for women include:

  • chest discomfort, pain, squeezing, burning or mild to severe pressure in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes
  • upper-body discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
  • dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, nausea and vomiting or cold sweats
  • feelings of anxiety, fatigue or weakness—unexplained or when you are exerting yourself

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.