Heart Attacks in Women: Five Signs to Watch For

May 16, 2024 | Education | 0 comments

Did you know that heart disease claims the lives of more women every year than cancer? According to the World Heart Federation, heart disease accounts for around 35% of female deaths every year. Alarmingly, many women experience a heart attack without realizing it. The signs of a heart attack in a woman may be atypical and harder to recognize. That can lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment, which could put a woman’s health at risk. 

Protect your heart health. Learn why heart attack symptoms may differ for women, what signs to watch for, and when to make an appointment with a cardiology specialist

Why Does a Heart Attack Feel Different in Women? 

The most common symptom associated with heart attacks is a sudden, crushing chest pain that radiates down the left arm. While it’s possible for a woman to experience this pain, they often experience a wider range of more subtle, harder-to-recognize symptoms. 

But why does a heart attack sometimes feel different for a woman? It might be due to:

  • Anatomy — Women usually have smaller coronary arteries compared to men. A blockage might not cause complete closure, so the pain sensation might differ. 
  • Hormones — Changes in hormone levels can influence how the heart functions and even how a woman perceives pain. 
  • Pain tolerance — Many women have a high pain tolerance, so they may not associate pain with a severe medical condition and attribute it to stress or anxiety instead. 

Women are also more likely to downplay or dismiss their symptoms. They might incorrectly associate heart attacks as a condition that affects more men and not something that could happen to them.

5 Common Signs of Heart Attacks in Women

While chest pain can still occur in women experiencing a heart attack, you should be aware of other, less-recognizable signs. Here are five common symptoms women should watch for. 

Uncomfortable Tightness in the Chest

This discomfort might feel different from the crushing pain most commonly associated with a heart attack. It might feel like squeezing, burning, or a fullness in the center of your chest. The pain might last for more than a few minutes or come and go over a period of time. 

Pain in Other Areas of the Body

Women are more likely to experience pain in areas other than their chest during a heart attack. They might have pain in their upper back, jaw, neck, shoulders, or down one or both arms. 

Shortness of Breath

It might feel like you struggle to breathe, even while resting. This might be accompanied by pain or be a symptom on its own. It will feel similar to being out of breath after intense exercise. 

Nausea or Indigestion

Women may experience symptoms that feel like heartburn or the stomach flu but are actually indicators of a heart attack. 

Experiencing a Cold Sweat

Experiencing a sudden cold sweat for no apparent reason could be another sign of a heart attack, especially if it is accompanied by other symptoms. 

If you experience any combination of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Early diagnosis and treatment can help minimize damage to your heart and improve your chances of full recovery. 

Support Your Heart Health: Visit EARH Cardiology Specialists

Heart disease is a serious medical condition, but it’s also preventable and treatable. You can take control of your heart health by understanding your personal risk factors, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and scheduling checkups with a cardiology specialist

The team of cardiology specialists at East Adams Rural Healthcare offers comprehensive cardiac care for everyone. They can provide heart disease risk assessments, diagnostic testing, and treatment plans tailored to your needs. 

If you are concerned about your heart health, schedule an appointment with our team today.