8 Heart Attack Symptoms for Women to Look Out For

Heart attack symptoms for women are a little different than what is experienced by men. It has been observed that the damage intensity after a heart attack is more in women than men.

And the number of women that die because of heart attacks is more than men, as women are most likely to have a silent heart attack or display symptoms that are not as telling about the life-threatening situation.

Lack of knowledge about heart attack symptoms for women leads to an increase in the severity of their condition and damage risks. So, it’s essential to understand better the signs that are most probably telling that your heart is in danger.

8 Heart Attack Symptoms For Women

Although, for most of the most part, heart attack symptoms for women are the same as those in men, in most cases, it has been evidenced that women who have a heart attack don’t even realize that they had one.

They dismiss the whole situation by chalking them to less life-threatening conditions like ordinary flu, acid reflux1 because of overeating, or just ageing.

It is very instinctive of women to disregard the dire situations that include them because they think they are protecting their families. However, they don’t know how even the subtle signs they ignore can prove to be so deadly for them.

Following are some of the heart attack symptoms for women that they should not ignore!

1. Chest Discomfort

The most common heart attack symptom should give you the first red flag that something is off your heart or has a brewing heart disease underneath.

You can describe this chest pain or chest discomfort as tightness or pressure in your chest. It resembles the feeling as if something is squeezing your heart. And often, it is followed by mild pain in your chest.

It happens if you have a blocked artery interrupting your blood flow, and the feeling can usually last for longer than a few minutes.

But you need to keep in mind that women can have a heart attack without even experiencing any pain or discomfort.

2. Shortness of Breath

How Shortness of Breath Could Indicate Coronary Heart Failure

The sheer sense of exhaustion accompanied by shortness of breath is another heart attack symptom for women. Heavy breathing without exertion is a clear telltale of heart problems.

Some women experience shortness of breath when lying down, and the symptom starts to ease when they are sitting upright. It is one of the warning signs that should not be ignored.

3. Unusual Fatigue

Unusual fatigue
Photo by Zohre Nemati on Unsplash /Copyright 2021

This is one of the heart attack symptoms for women that becomes frequent and more pronounced in the weeks leading up to a heart attack. Working as effortlessly as dragging a chair for a few meters can make you feel exhausted.

This symptom starts as something very usual that most women disregard as, “Oh, I’m ageing. I need to up my cardio.” But as the days lead closer to a heart attack, it increases exponentially and becomes intense to the point that getting up from bed looks like a chore.

4. Weakness

Weakness
Image by Manisha B., Flickr/ Copyright 2021

Losing weight and colour is another one of the heart attack symptoms for women.

You might feel shaky or weak in standing up. In addition to sudden movements, a lot of things start to make you feel lightheaded and dizzy.

This can be because your heart is not pumping blood the way it should, and your blood pressure has dropped, making you feel lightheaded.

The feeling of weakness, in most cases, is accompanied by anxiety and an acute feeling of fainting. So if you are experiencing shortness of breath, particularly with an extreme sense of fatigue and weakness, you might consider looking for a doctor.

5. Excessive Sweating

Excessive sweating
Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels /Copyright 2021

Sweating more than usual and breaking out in cold sweats in even the most futile works might be one of the warning signs that you are leading to heart failure.

This happens because the heart has to pump blood through blocked arteries, taking more effort than usual. So your body sweats more instinctively to prevent your body temperature from rising because of the extra exertion.

Feeling cold and clammy is also one of the heart attack symptoms for women.

6. Upper Body Pain

Back pain
Photo by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash /Copyright 2021

Severe pain in the upper parts of your body might also indicate that you have poor heart health.

You can experience pain starting at the chest and spreading to one or both arms. In some cases, it has been evidenced that patients just had arm pain, but it turned out to be a heart attack.

In addition to arms, you might also experience jaw pain.

It isn’t heart-related if your jaw pain is just limited to some point in your jaw or throat. But if it feels like you have uncomfortable pressure in your chest and pain radiating from there has spread to your jaw, you should consider calling for an emergency.

Similar pain in the neck and upper back areas should also be considered one of the heart attack symptoms for women.

7. Stomach Problems

Stomach problems
Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels/Copyright 2021

Nausea2, indigestion, vomiting, and pressure in your stomach are some of the warning signs of a heart ailment. Squeezing, fullness, or pain is also one common sign.

It is one of the heart attack symptoms that women reportedly experience while having a heart attack.

8. Sleep Disturbances

The Relationship Between Sleep Apnea and Cardiovascular Disease

Sleep disturbance is one of the most common heart attack symptoms for women in the few weeks that lead to a heart attack.

These symptoms includes:

  1. Facing difficulty in falling asleep.
  2. Waking up at unusual times at night.
  3. Feeling exhausted even after hours of sleep.

What are the Heart Attack Risk Factors for Women?

According to American Heart Association Guidelines, the common risk factors for women are:

  1. Family history: Women with a family history of heart disease are at increased risk of getting the same.
  2. Diabetes: Women with diabetes are more prone to heart attacks than men with diabetes.
  3. Health status: Women with high blood pressure and high cholesterol are more likely to acquire heart disease.
  4. Menopause: Low levels of estrogen in women after menopause generate a significant risk of getting heart attacks.
  5. Lack of physical activity: It has been observed that women doing little to no physical activity are at a greater risk of acquiring a heart ailment than others.
  6. Depression: Mental stress and depression play a vital role in women’s health. As it makes it difficult for them to acquire healthy lifestyle changes and healthy weight.
  7. Smoking: Smoking makes women more prone to heart diseases than men.
  8. Age: Women aged 55 years or older are more at risk of getting a heart attack. This can be because hormones protect them from heart diseases before menopause.

How to Prevent Heart Diseases?

Heart attacks involve discomfort, and with a bit of attention to our way of living, in addition to looking out for heart attack symptoms in women, we can prevent ourselves from going through all those drawbacks.

Following are some of the ways by which you can prevent yourself from heart disease:

  1. Healthy eating: Women with a heart-healthy diet are less likely to observe any heart attack symptoms for women.
  2. Quit smoking: If you want a healthy heart, quit smoking as it is probably planting blockages in your coronary artery and blood vessels.
  3. Exercise regularly: Even the most moderate exercises, like walking daily in the morning, can help maintain good heart health and help with issues like high blood cholesterol.
  4. Managing your stress: Stress3 tightens the arteries, causing chest pain or discomfort and increasing the risk of a heart attack.
  5. Manage other health issues: If you have diabetes 4or high blood pressure, pay better attention to it to increase your risk of getting into cardiac arrest.

What is Myocardial Infarction?

It is the medical term for a heart attack when women ignore all the common symptoms that indicate their heart needs emergency medical services.

This happens when a blood clot forms in the artery, and the heart muscles start to die because of the low blood flow. Lack of blood flow can be due to many other reasons, but it always leads to blockage in one way or the other and the person getting into a cardiac arrest.5

If the blood flow is not restored immediately, myocardial infarction can cause permanent damage to the heart. Thus it is strongly insisted that if you suddenly find an uncomfortable pressure squeezing your chest, directly look for emergency medical personnel.

The less time it will take for you to reach the emergency room, the less your heart will be at risk of getting permanent damage. Most heart attacks require Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and medical attention to restore the flow of blood.

How to Recover From a Heart Attack?

A myocardial infarction can significantly affect the rhythm of your heart and its ability to pump enough blood to the remainder of the body. So it’s necessary to ensure its proper recovery, to avoid future health conditions.

Some of the ways are:

  1. Cardiac Rehabilitation: It is a cardiac rehab program that includes physical therapists, nutrition specialists, health care teams, counsellors, and medical professionals who help in proper recovery. This program’s features are; appropriate physical exercises, counselling to help manage stress, and education about the proper healthy lifestyle.
  2. Change in Lifestyle: Small lifestyle alterations like a healthy diet, no alcohol, and suitable physical activities can help you recover.

Key Takeaways

These are the heart attack symptoms for women that should never be ignored. Because even though the heart attack symptoms for women are less telling about their heart situation than for men, that does not mean that they are, in any way, less deadly for their health.

So women need to know the symptoms and the risk factors that are most likely shoving them towards a heart ailment.

To read more articles like this, click here.

FAQs

1. What are the silent signs of a heart attack in a woman?

Ans. Following are the silent signs of a heart attack in a woman:

  • Having Chest Pain
  • Feeling Pressure in the chest
  • Fullness or Discomfort.
  • Discomfort in body
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Having cold sweats.

2. What is a symptom of pre-heart attack in women?

Ans. Women experience pain and numbness on the right side of their chest while having a pre-heart attack symptom.

3. At what age heart attack is experienced in females?

Ans. At the age of 55 or older females commonly experience heart attacks.

  1. Fass, Ronnie, et al. “Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease.” Nature reviews Disease primers 7.1 (2021): 55. ↩︎
  2. Zhong, Weixia, et al. “Mechanisms of nausea and vomiting: current knowledge and recent advances in intracellular emetic signaling systems.” International journal of molecular sciences 22.11 (2021): 5797. ↩︎
  3. O’Connor, Daryl B., Julian F. Thayer, and Kavita Vedhara. “Stress and health: A review of psychobiological processes.” Annual review of psychology 72 (2021): 663-688. ↩︎
  4. Care, Diabetes. “Care in diabetes—2022.” Diabetes care 45 (2022): S17. ↩︎
  5. Perkins, Gavin D., et al. “Brain injury after cardiac arrest.” The Lancet 398.10307 (2021): 1269-1278. ↩︎

Last Updated on by Suchi

Author

Akanksha Raj
  1. “Thanks for telling us this very important stuff! Women need to know the special signs that show if they might have a heart attack. If we notice these signs early, it can really help us get the right help at the right time. This article reminds us all to pay attention to how our bodies feel, and to see a doctor if something doesn’t seem right. Let’s make sure we take good care of our hearts.

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