Heart Attack Symptoms in Women vs Men: What’s The Difference?

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Update Date 10/12/2020 . 3 mins read
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Heart attacks are one of the leading causes of death for all genders. So raising awareness about the symptoms of heart attacks can be one way to save a life.

Heart attacks, despite being serious medical emergencies, can be reversed especially if treated is provided as soon as possible.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women vs Men

What is a Heart Attack?

A heart attack, also referred to as a myocardial infarction, occurs when not enough blood is supplied to the heart. As time goes by, this lack of blood can lead to irreversible damage to the heart muscle. 

Heart attacks usually occur due to a disruption in the blood flow leading to the heart. The arteries, specifically the coronary arteries, are responsible for supplying the heart with oxygen-rich blood.

However, plaque can build up in the coronary arteries, which can significantly reduce the flow of blood. The accumulation of plaque in the arteries can result in a condition known as atherosclerosis.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women vs Men

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women vs Men

Symptoms of Heart Attack in Men

Men are more likely to experience classic heart attack symptoms, such as:

Pain or discomfort in the chest

Some describe this feeling as a sort of tightening or squeezing feeling, some describe it as having something heavy set upon your chest. The pain may also come and go.

Irregular heartbeat

Feeling your heart beat too fast or too slow is a key symptom of heart attack. This condition is also known as arrhythmia.

Pain in the upper body

In most cases, those who suffer heart attacks complain of a soreness in their upper body, specifically the arms, stomach, back, neck, or jaw.


Being out of breath is one of the more common symptoms of heart attack, and is also referred to as dyspnea.

Nausea, indigestion, or dizziness

All three of this symptoms could be signaling an impending heart attack in men.

Symptoms of Heart Attack in Women

Although women can still experience the heart attack symptoms that men do, they can also suffer from atypical symptoms such as:

  • Feeling anxious all of a sudden.
  • Pain or discomfort radiating from the center of the chest that may spread to the arms.
  • Feeling extremely tired or fatigued for no reason.
  • Breathlessness, without experiencing chest pain.

Women who suffer from heart attacks may also show symptoms weeks or months before suffering from the attack itself, which gives them more time to actually seek treatment.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women vs Men

Why Women Should Be Aware of Heart Attack Symptoms

Although more men suffer from heart attacks, the mortality rate is higher among women.

This is likely due to widespread misinformation that women are unlikely to get heart attacks. 

If you are a woman, it can pay to learn about the symptoms of heart attack and your risk of cardiovascular disease because:

  • Women can suffer from conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis, which can significantly increase an individual’s risk of coronary heart disease which is the primary cause of heart attacks.
  • The hormone estrogen produced by the female reproductive system assists in warding of heart attacks when a woman is younger. Women are more at risk of heart attacks when they’ve reached menopause which is why older women are usually those who suffer from heart attacks.
  • Women take a longer time to recover from heart attacks, due to underlying conditions or because of factors such as stress and putting the needs of others before their own.

Key Takeaways

Understanding your risk and learning about the usual and unusual symptoms of heart attacks can mean the difference between life and death.

This is especially true for women, who are much more vulnerable to heart attacks compared to men. It’s important to remember that in the event of a heart attack, timely response is key.

Recognizing the early warning signs of a heart attack may just save someone else’s life, or your own. 

Learn more about heart attacks, here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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