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Unique Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

5 Mins read
heart attack in women

Heart diseases and heart attacks are the leading cause of death nowadays. You might also hear the news of people having heart attacks while doing everyday chores. But what’s even more surprising is that the heart attack symptoms in women can be quite different from those in men.

The data also shows that women can experience unique and subtle warning signs. These distinctive signs might not scream “heart attack” in the way we have come to expect.

But it’s crucial to know these symptoms for your well-being. In this blog, we will talk about those unique symptoms. We want to help every woman understand their heart better to stay healthy. Knowing the signs can be a life saviour.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Some people think that a heart attack may come suddenly. However, according to research,  females can experience heart attack symptoms several weeks before an attack. A study conducted for 515 women aged 29 to 97 who had experienced heart attacks shows that it is not necessary to have chest pain before a heart attack. 

They found that only 30 percent of the women experienced chest pain before a heart attack among them. The remaining women have experienced many other symptoms, which doctors did not consider as primary symptoms of a heart attack. Additionally, the author of the study also said that it is the main reason why so many women remain undiagnosed or mistakenly diagnosed.

Following are the symptoms that women have experienced besides chest pain:

  • Unusual fatigue
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Shortness of breath
  • Indigestion
  • Anxiety

Besides this, women may also experience the following:

  • Sweating
  • Upper body pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

What are the Risk Factors for Heart Attack in Women?

Many traditional risk factors can cause heart attacks in both men and women, for example, high cholesterol, obesity, and high blood pressure. However, some other factors play a significant role in heart disease in women. 

These risk factors for women are:


A woman affected with diabetes is more prone to heart diseases like heart attack as compared to men. Also, diabetes can cause damaged blood vessels and nerves that control the heart.

Diabetes in Women

Besides, it can also develop other health issues which ultimately cause heart attacks. Such as diabetes can induce high blood pressure, which can damage the artery walls of the heart. Moreover, diabetes can cause high cholesterol in the bloodstream, which can form plaque on artery walls and damage them.

Emotional Stress and Depression

Undoubtedly, stress is a normal part of our lives. However, women with stress and depression are more likely to develop heart disease. 

Emotional Stress and Depression

The study also suggests that long-term emotional stress releases the cortisol hormone in our body, which ultimately leads to heart attack symptoms in women. Additionally, it is difficult to make a healthy lifestyle with depression, which can also induce heart attacks.

Pregnancy Complications

Women can get affected with long-term diabetes and high blood pressure during and after pregnancy, which increases their risk of heart attacks.

Pregnancy Complications


During menopause, estrogen level often declines. Thus, fat may build up in heart arteries, resulting in narrow arteries, which will further cause heart diseases like heart attack or stroke. 



Lack of physical activity leads to numerous health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, slow metabolism, etc, which are the leading causes of heart attack symptoms in women.



Women who smoke are more at risk of developing heart attacks as compared to men. Chemicals in cigarette smoke cause blood clotting in veins and arteries, and clot blockage causes sudden death by heart attack.


Inflammatory Disease

Inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus induce plaque growth and trigger blood clots.

What are the Treatments for Heart Attacks in Women? 

Generally, treatment for heart disease or heart attack symptoms in women and men is the same. Medication, stenting, and angioplasty or coronary bypass surgery are some of the options.

However, men and women handle heart disease differently. Here are some notable differences among them:

  • Studies reveal that aspirin’s advantages in treating heart disease are similar for both men and women. However, women are not as likely to be prescribed aspirin to prevent further heart attacks as compared to men.
  • Besides, women are less likely to undergo Coronary bypass surgery because women have smaller arteries. Also, they have minor vessel disease or less obstructive disease than men.
  • Additionally, cardiac rehabilitation can help people recover from cardiac illness and maintain better health. However, women are less likely to receive a recommendation for cardiac repair.

How to Prevent Heart Attack Symptoms in Women?

Avoid Alcohol

You should avoid or limit alcohol to prevent heart attack symptoms. If you can’t do so, you should drink in moderation.

Quit Smoking

Avoid smoking, or if you don’t smoke, then don’t start as well. Additionally, try to stay away from secondhand smoke as it can potentially harm blood vessels.

Manage Stress

Do exercise, meditate, or connect with others to manage stress because stress can tighten the arteries, which can cause heart disease.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Avoid foods with trans fat and unsaturated fat, high salts, or added sugar. Instead, choose healthy food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products.

Manage Other Health Conditions

High blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol are standard. These conditions often become the reason for heart disease. Thus, to reduce the heart attack risks, we have to manage these health issues.

Exercise and Maintain a  Healthy Weight

If you are overweight, you should lose some weight to reduce heart disease risks. You should seek the advice of your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise and to know how many pounds you should lose according to your weight.

When Should Women Seek Medical Help?

Women who are over 40 should have regular checks with the doctor so that their risk factors for heart attack can identified early. It will also help in early treatment. In other words, it would be easy to handle the situation at that phase.

Besides that, anyone who notices the following warning signs of a heart attack should seek medical help immediately. Such as

  • Shortness of breath
  • Upper body pain {neck, jaw, etc}
  • Unusual fatigue.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common age for a woman to have a heart attack?

The most common age for a woman to have a heart attack is commonly in their mid-60s and beyond, after menopause. However, heart attacks can occur at any age. Moreover, risk factors such as family history, lifestyle, etc play a significant role.

What are the Four silent signs of heart attack?

The four silent signs of heart attack, specifically in women, include:

  • Fatigue,
  • Shortness of breath,
  • Sleep disturbances,
  • Digestive issues.

What does a mini heart attack feel like in a woman?

Women having a mini heart attack may experience the following symptoms:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Radiating pain in the neck, jaw, shoulder, back, or even arms
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Cold sweats

What is a pre-heart attack?

Pre-heart attack is not the medical term. It’s early warning signs of a heart attack, for example, chest pain or discomfort, sleep disturbance, shortness of breath, etc. Women often experience these signs a few hours or days before a heart attack.

How Long Can Heart Attack Symptoms Last in a Woman?

In women, heart attack symptoms can vary. These symptoms might last an extended period and may not be as clear and noticeable as in men. It may include chest discomfort—shortness of breath, and pain in various body parts.


A heart attack is a severe health issue that requires immediate medical treatment. In addition, there are some risk factors and unique heart attack symptoms in women, such as a family history of having heart disease, pregnancy, menopause and nausea, vomiting, dizziness, upper body pain, etc.

Also, there are many steps that people can take to reduce these risk factors and symptoms, For instance, a healthy lifestyle, avoiding alcohol and smoking, managing stress, maintaining a healthy weight, etc. Additionally, we can also prevent complications by staying aware of heart attack symptoms, especially in the weeks before stroke, or early warning signs.

If you suspect you or your loved one have these symptoms or are concerned, don’t wait; contact your doctor immediately.

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About author
Hello, I am Naveen, a versatile freelance content writer. My journey led me through various niches, but health writing is where my heart is. I aim to create content that empowers and informs my readers about their health choices. When I am not writing, you will find me busy exploring new skills. Follow me on LinkedIn
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