On television and in the movies, the signs of a heart attack are clear – the actress grabs her chest, has a hard time breathing, falls to the ground and the paramedics are called. In real life, though, the signs are not as obvious, especially the signs and symptoms of heart disease in women.

blog_heart disease in women

Women typically don’t suffer the signs usually associated with heart attacks and in real life, the signs of a heart attack are so subtle that they can be easily overlooked. One of the most frequent warning signs that women face is fatigue – let’s face it, this is a hard symptom to isolate from general day-to-day fatigue that is a result of taking care of home, family and working. The second most noticeable symptom of a heart attack for women is shortness of breath that could come even in the course of normal everyday activities.


The chest pain that is typically associated with a heart attack and that is usually accompanied by pressure, squeezing or a tightness in the chest happens in fewer than 50 percent of all women who suffer a heart attack. Women will usually feel a chest pain that is a sharp, burning one and the pain could radiate in their back, jaw or neck. The pain can also be felt in one or both arms, the stomach or upper back.  Medical professionals caution that for women, the pain usually comes when they’re at rest.


If you’re looking for symptoms of a heart attack, in addition to the shortness of breath, fatigue or the burning pain, you want to be aware of these changes in your body:

  • Breaking into a cold sweat
  • Inability to sleep
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Clammy skin
  • Increased anxiety

Even if these symptoms come and go, they can still be the sign of a heart attack on the horizon.


While doctors aren’t certain why the symptoms of a heart attack differ in men and women, they have theorized that it’s because of the way men and women perceive pain. Another reason could simply be because of the hormone changes in women that causes the small-vessels to narrow and this could lead to the difference in symptoms. Depression, which is more prevalent in women, is also known to present a significant factor in heart disease and this could alter the way heart attack symptoms present themselves in women.


If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms you will want to call your doctor or 9-1-1 immediately as early treatment can save your life.