How Women Experience Heart Attacks Differently

Heart disease is the top cause of death in both women and men in the United States. It’s important to seek out medical attention immediately if you suspect you’re having a heart attack.

Symptoms of a heart attack are different in women than men, so women might not realize they’re experiencing a heart attack. If you’re female, it’s extremely important to learn what symptoms of heart attacks commonly look like in women.

Read on to learn how women experience heart attacks differently from men, so you can get the help you need in an emergency.

Women have more heart attacks when they’re resting

When we think of a heart attack victim, we imagine someone being active when symptoms strike. However, unlike men, women more commonly have heart attacks when they’re resting or even sleeping.

A possible reason for this is that women’s heart attacks often start from emotional, rather than physical, stress. It’s important to avoid minimizing possible heart attack symptoms just because you’re relaxing when they strike.

Women are less likely to experience chest pain

Chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom in women and men. Nevertheless, women are less likely than men to have severe chest pain when they have a heart attack.

More commonly than men, women have heart attacks caused by small, rather than large, heart arteries. These types of blockages tend to cause symptoms that are less obvious than chest pain.

Female heart attacks symptoms are subtler

Women need to be aware of the more vague symptoms they often get that indicate a heart attack. Other common symptoms you might experience include pain or discomfort in areas surrounding the chest, such as the neck and jaw, arm, shoulder, upper back, or stomach.

You might also experience vomiting and nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, indigestion, and unexplained fatigue. Your symptoms might feel more similar to what you’d expect from the flu or acid reflux than a heart attack.

Women are less likely to seek immediate care during a heart attack

Because female heart attack symptoms are often less obvious, women are more likely to chalk them up to other conditions and less likely to seek out emergency care. By the time they do receive care, they’ve often experienced damage to their heart that could have been prevented with earlier intervention.

If you feel unwell and are experiencing any of the potential symptoms of a heart attack, it’s important to get to the emergency room as soon as possible to get it checked out. If you’re having a heart attack, every minute matters in getting you the right care.

Led by distinguished cardiologist Dr. Henock St. Jacques, FACC, the experienced team at Harlem Cardiology is well-versed in helping women as well as men who’ve experienced heart attacks or have concerns about their heart health. We offer regular screening for coronary heart disease, as well as follow-up care for patients who’ve experienced heart attacks.

Located conveniently in Harlem, New York, Harlem Cardiology serves patients throughout the greater New York City area. Request your appointment online or by calling our practice.

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