Heart Attack Symptoms in Men vs. Women

elderly woman with glassesHeart Attack Symptoms in  Men vs. Women

The number one symptom associated with a heart attack is pain or tightness in the chest, and while that is one of the most common signs, it is not the only one. A heart attack can be a lot less dramatic than a sharp pain in the chest. Symptoms can start to occur hours or weeks before the heart attack. Familiarizing yourself with the signs of a heart attack, especially the differences between heart attack symptoms in men vs. women, can be life-saving in a critical moment.

Men vs. Woman

A heart attack occurs about every 43 seconds, according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, and yet the signs can often go unnoticed in women as they can experience symptoms differently than men. Though chest pain is the most common symptom in both men and women, women are more likely to experience other symptoms. Symptoms in women will sometimes present in the form of cold sweats, nausea or vomiting, unexplained fatigue, and lightheadedness or fainting. Overall heart attack symptoms in men vs. women can be very different.

Other signs of a heart attack that can occur in both men and women are pain or discomfort in either arm, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. Shortness of breath without pain in the chest is another possible sign. If you experience any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

Helpful Heart Information

A study looking at 35 years of research showed that between male and female heart attack victims between 30 and 37 percent of women did not experience chest pain during their heart attack. The same data showed that only 17 to 27 percent of men did not experience chest discomfort, according to the National Institutes of Health. The same NIH study also showed that the older the heart attack victim was, the less likely they were to experience chest pain. 

Though chest pain can be a reliable indicator that you may be having a heart attack, it is essential not to ignore other symptoms. A heart attack occurs when blood flow bringing oxygen to the heart is cut off or reduced. Typically, this is caused due to a buildup of fat, plaque, or cholesterol in the arteries supplying the heart with blood.

Quitting smoking can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by half within one year, according to The Heart Foundation. Starting an exercise routine of just 30 minutes per day can also significantly reduce the risk for both heart attack and stroke. For ideas on how to get started with an exercise routine, see six simple yet powerful exercises for seniors. Most importantly schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your risk.


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