Heart Attack Symptoms: Women vs Men | Whittier, CA | PIH Health

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Published on February 03, 2022

Heart Attack Symptoms: Women vs Men

Photo of a woman touching her chest over he heart with a pained and concerned expressionWhen it comes to heart problems, men and women are not equal. The classic misconception is that chest pain is the common symptom of a heart attack both in men and women. However, more recent studies have suggested that women are more likely to experience a heart attack without chest pain. That’s why it’s important for people to understand the variety of symptoms of a heart attack because it can be critical to getting treatment quicker and saving a life.

What to Look For

Below are common symptoms of a heart attack for both men and women:

  • Chest pain. For men, it can feel like uncomfortable heavy pressure or squeezing of the chest. For women, the pain could be radiating or non-radiating. Research shows that 43% of women said they did not experience chest pain at any time during a heart attack.
  • Jaw, neck, or back pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath

Unique symptoms for women include:

  • Fatigue. This often the first and most unrecognized symptom for women because it is subtlest.
  • Pain and pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen
  • Abdominal discomfort that may feel like indigestion
  • Fainting

It is important to note that not all of these warning signs occur in every heart attack. Symptoms can vary based on your gender and age, and if you have diabetes. Even when the signs are subtle, the consequences can be deadly, especially if the victim doesn’t get help right away.

If heart attack symptoms strike, call 911 immediately. During a heart attack, every second counts. The longer the heart is deprived of oxygen, the higher the risk of damage to heart muscle or death. As soon as paramedics arrive, treatment begins and critical time is saved. If you are experiencing symptoms of heart attack, do not drive.

Tips for Prevention

You can prevent heart disease by not smoking, exercising at least 30 minutes most days, eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables, and avoiding saturated and trans fats, and by knowing your numbers, including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, weight and BMI.

Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to learn your personal risk for heart disease. Doctors use a variety of screenings to grade the quality of your health. Having timely tests and screenings can help you reduce your risk for heart disease.

To learn more about heart attack symptoms and care, please visit PIHHealth.org/HeartAttack.

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.