Heart Disease Home > Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Women

Women who are having a heart attack may have symptoms that differ from those experienced by men. While symptoms may include the classic heart attack symptoms (such as chest pain), classic symptoms appear less commonly in women. Common symptoms of a heart attack in women include indigestion or heartburn-type sensation, fatigue, and weakness. Other symptoms include trouble sleeping, problems breathing, and anxiety. Up to 20 percent of women who have a heart attack will have mild discomfort or no pain at all.

Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Women: An Overview

Many people believe that women do not have heart attacks. This may explain one reason why research studies show that women are less likely to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack. Consider the following statistics:
  • One in three American women dies of heart disease or a heart attack (1 in 23 women die from breast cancer)
  • Thirty-eight percent of women will die within 1 year after having a heart attack
  • Within 6 years of having a heart attack, about 46 percent of women become disabled with heart failure
  • Two thirds of women who have a heart attack fail to make a full recovery.
It is true that women usually have heart attacks later in life than men do. It is also true that heart attack symptoms in women can be different from symptoms commonly seen in men.

Common Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Common symptoms of a heart attack in women include:
  • Pain or discomfort (often a pressure-like pain) in or around the chest, shoulders, jaw, neck, back or arms. It may feel like a squeezing, pressing sensation in the chest.
  • Indigestion or heartburn-type sensation (see Heartburn or Heart Attack?).
  • Nausea (feeling sick to your stomach).
  • Fatigue.
  • Shortness of breath (feeling like you can't get enough air).
  • Sweating.
  • Light-headedness.
  • Weakness.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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