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Heart Attack Warning Signs In Women

Updated on February 4, 2014
Women's Heart Attack Symptoms
Women's Heart Attack Symptoms | Source


This article is dedicated to my dear friend Johanna who passed of a sudden fatal heart attack in November of this year. She was a wife, a mother, a practicing Registered Nurse, and a deeply loved friend to many. She will be missed.

50% Of Women Suffering A Heart Attack Won't Call 911

I really feel that the topic of women's heart attacks, strictly belongs to just women. How we display symptoms, what those symptoms are, and how we react to all of the warning signs our body sends out, is far different than how our male counterparts encounter the problem. The belief that crushing chest pain and a numbing arm are the predominant indicators for a heart attack has surely killed more females than I care to think about. Why? Because these symptoms are rarely—if at all—the sign of a heart attack in a woman!

Women Don't Realize It's A Heart Attack

Men and women experience heart attack symptoms differently. It is these differences that I hope to clear up. Knowing the warning signs of a heart attack for any woman can save her life. But, she has to be willing to dial 911 in order to save that life! And, as we all can imagine, women are less likely to dial that all important number without a deep belief that we are in dyer need of immediate medical help! "It can't be a heart attack, my arm doesn't hurt and I don't have crushing chest pain." Many women have spoken these final, and fatal last words.

Women's Heart Health Resources (.gov & .org)

Heart Attacks In Women

One might think breast cancer to hold the role of being the most deadly health issue for women; surprisingly, heart disease has become the #1 killer of women in the USA. When beginning this article, as with any hub, I had to pick a topic section to place it within. I went to the topic section and scrolled down to "Health" then chose "women's Health." I fully expected to find the next choice to be "heart disease" or "women's heart problems" or anything to do with our circulatory system. It was very telling to discover this important system was not listed at all. Unless I wanted to write about it under the general topic of diseases and disorders—which I did not—I was willing to place the article under women's issues rather than generalize such a female specific health concern.

Heart Attack Fact For Women

Following the first heart attack, if changes to lifestyle are not managed, the next 5 years bring higher probability for a second, and more dangerous episode.

Women Specific Heart Attack Warning Signs

6 Signs Of A Heart Attack In Women

  1. PAIN - Unlike men, women are more likely to experience pain in the jaw, chest, center of back, right breast near center of chest, neck, intense pain that radiates in both arms or biceps, chest pressure that is not necessarily pain, strong heaviness-like pressure in chest (like a brick is on your chest), abdominal pain.
  2. Sweating - Unusual or excess sweating, or sweating not associated with exertion.
  3. Nausea - Nausea and indigestion that won't go away with an antacid (within minutes), nausea caused by sudden exertion, vomiting that feels unnatural.
  4. Fatigue - Tired just going up stairs, notable difference in energy level, too tired to do normal daily activity, sudden need for nap, overall sense of fatigue.
  5. Dizziness / Lightheaded - off balance, dizzy, dizziness that doesn't go away when you sit and close your eyes.
  6. Shortness Of Breath - Trouble talking while walking, can't catch your breath.

High Heart Attack Risk Factors For Women

Genetic Risk Factors

Everyone pretty much understands that our genetic make-up has much to do with our health and well-being. Some of the primary genetic factors to be aware of are as follows;

  • history of heart problems in family
  • being overweight (men or women)
  • age (+55 in women creates a higher risk factor)
  • gender (if your mother and other female family members have heart issues, so might you)
  • body shape/type (build weight around belly and hips)

Lifestyle Risk Factors

Even if we are predisposed to certain risk factors genetically, we still can maintain some measure of control over our heart health. A few lifestyle concerns play a significant role in just how healthy we women can keep our beating hearts.

  • Belly Fat - This type of fat in particular releases toxic chemicals into the body that cause heart problems. If you weigh more than 20-lbs over your high school weight, the risk factor increases by 50%.
  • Unhealthy Diet - Packaged processed foods are a huge contributor to heart disease. The additives in many of these foods has a devastating effect on our hearts.
  • Sedentary Lifestyle - By not staying active, all of the other risk factors increase. Your heart health hinges on this one factor.
  • Smoking - There is just nothing good that smoking brings to the heart health table...basically, you are systematically killing yourself.
  • High Blood Pressure - Excess pressure on vessels causes damage.
  • Stress - Increases chemical spills into the bloodstream that trigger other systems to stay in an escalated condition, causing damage and free radical activity.
  • Bad High Cholesterol - Blocks smooth blood flow, plaque breakage released into the bloodstream causes scabbing inside the arteries that closes off blood flow to the heart.

At Heart® Emergency Dispenser Kit

Don't Leave Home Without It

There is a new and fantastic emergency product on the market for heart attack help, it is the At Heart® Emergency Dispenser Kit, this thing is around $10 and can be a real life saver. Almost every bit of research indicates that by chewing an aspirin at the very first sign of a heart attack or episode can assist in saving your life. By having this handy key chain style dispenser at the ready, you have a very good chance of helping yourself, a loved one, or a friend to enjoy more of what life has planned for them in the future. This little dispenser is uniquely designed and patented to offer you the fastest available aspirin dose during any heart emergency. Don't leave home without one!

I make no money nor am I affiliated with The At Heart® website

What You Think Really Does Matter!

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Comments for "Heart Attack Warning Signs In Women"

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  • MJ Martin profile image

    MJ Martin aka Ruby H Rose 

    4 years ago from Washington State

    So many symptoms similar to other physical ailments. Thank you for the clarity of these warning signs and what we can do about them. So sorry for your loss. Voted up and shared.

  • AnnaCia profile image


    5 years ago

    Very useful and interesting information. Thank you for sharing.

  • Rusticliving profile image

    Liz Rayen 

    6 years ago from California

    I am so glad you did this hub. A definite must read for everyone, not just women. Thank you for covering all the important symptoms so we can pay more attention and be aware. Kudos! Voted up and shared! ♥

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    6 years ago from Northern, California

    @DanaTeresa, @fpherj48, @Nell Rose, @mary615, @Vellur~ Thank you each for sharing your thoughts on, and personal experiences with heart attacks in women. I really appreciate your support with this topic. @fpherj48, I absolutly agree! Doctors as well, must be more on the look out for the signs that women may not be expecting. My friend was a working RN and she passed from a fatal attack just days ago. Very scary thing.


  • Vellur profile image

    Nithya Venkat 

    6 years ago from Dubai

    Very useful life saving information. Thank you for sharing. Voted up and pinned.

  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 

    6 years ago from Florida

    I had read these facts before about women and heart attacks. Doctors don't take women seriously when they think they are having a heart attack. I take a baby aspirin every day, but I have not heard of this At Heart: I'm buying one of these.

    Thank you so much for sharing your sad story. I am so sorry for your loss. This Hub just might save some lives.

    Voted this UP, and will share.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    6 years ago from England

    Hi k9, what a terrible shock for you. I am so sorry about your friend, and thank you for such a useful hub. I only learned about the jaw pain a while ago, who would have guessed that would be a symptom? I do carry aspirin around in my bag, I should take it daily as its said to help, I have shared and tweeted. take care, nell

  • fpherj48 profile image


    6 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    K9.....Don't know if you read my hub, but if you know I had a heart attack.....10 years ago. I DID know what my symptoms were.....My hubby drove me to the ER......they did all the standard testing....they SENT ME HOME, saying I did NOT have a heart attack. 2 days later, I was back......this time they scrambled like scared chickens and within hours I was having a stent placement......

    So...there's always that particular scenario, as well. We can be more aware and alert than the medical professionals.....RULE # 1 TO DRS......WE KNOW OUR OWN BODIES......SOME OF US ARE MEDICALLY KNOWLEDGEABLE .....SOME OF US KNOW WHEN TO GET OUR BUTTS TO AN E.R.........YOU NEED TO LISTEN AND TAKE SERIOUS ACTION. I'm in fine shape 10 years later, so we're over the anger. But just one more caveat for women to heed.......INSIST that more tests are done when you KNOW what's going on!!

  • DanaTeresa profile image

    Dana Strang 

    6 years ago from Ohio

    Very informative and easy to understand and follow. This should be read by every woman. In addition to the excellent info on recognizing a heart attack, it is a gret wakeup call to live a healthy lifestyle.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    6 years ago from Northern, California

    Sunshine625~ Most of the time the jaw pain women feel during a heart attack gets ignored as something else. I am glad your friend told you otherwise! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Friday, when Johanna passed, another friend of mine had gone for coffee with her, saying she just didn't look "right". A few hours later, my dear sweet friend was gone. A shocking lesson in how precious life truly is, and how important understanding the symptoms of a heart attack in women can be.


  • Sunshine625 profile image

    Linda Bilyeu 

    6 years ago from Orlando, FL

    Thank you India for creating this useful hub to help others. I had no idea women should be alerted to jaw pain until a friend told me a few years ago. I am a glutton for stress. Useful and interesting hub!

  • Tealparadise profile image


    6 years ago

    Great hub idea - why is it that heart attacks are still seen as a "male" problem? My great-aunt had a heart attack, went to the hospital, and came home with a prescription for PNEMONIA of all things! (of course the mistake was realized *after* she had another attack) It's not just the laypeople who need education on this topic - doctors need to be reminded that women can and do have heart attacks!

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    6 years ago from Northern, California

    Ruchira~ Thank you so much for sharing your comments. Women are at far more risk for hear attack than we even dare to imagine.


  • Ruchira profile image


    6 years ago from United States

    Sorry to hear about your loss.

    An informative article about heart attack and women. Women have a high tolerance to pain thus, the risk is higher.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    6 years ago from Northern, California

    Daisy Mariposa~ Thank you for your gracious comments, my friend.


  • Daisy Mariposa profile image

    Daisy Mariposa 

    6 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


    I am so sorry for the loss of your friend Johanna to a fatal sudden heart attack three days ago.

    HubHugs, my friend.

  • K9keystrokes profile imageAUTHOR

    India Arnold 

    6 years ago from Northern, California

    A female body acts quite differently than a man's when a heart attack is in the works! So often when I talk with my gal pals, they have no idea what to look for. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the hub! I am thrilled you approve of the article.


  • Jennifer Stone profile image

    Jennifer Stone 

    6 years ago from the Riverbank, England

    Thank you for this information, I really didn't know most of this! An important read, voted up and sharing, all the best, Jen

  • Teresa Coppens profile image

    Teresa Coppens 

    6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    K9, Very well written and informative. I knew our symptoms were different but now I' ve learned the major signs of heart attack in women. I hope I never have to experience any first hand. Fantastic job as usual. Voted up!

  • Alecia Murphy profile image

    Alecia Murphy 

    6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

    A lady I know had one last week and she called 911. The paramedics were so rude and insensitive to her and dismissed her saying she was having an anxiety attack. She persisted and when she finally got to the emergency room, the doctor said it was a good thing she trusted her instincts because if not she may not have lived.

    This is great information that is going to help a lot of people. Voted up, useful, and shared.

  • tsmog profile image

    Tim Mitchell 

    6 years ago from Escondido, CA

    thank you k9keystrokes.

  • cclitgirl profile image

    Cynthia Calhoun 

    6 years ago from Western NC

    Very valuable information here. It's amazing how many women won't call 911 because they don't think they're having a heart attack. It's good to read about it here to recognize the symptoms.

  • stephhicks68 profile image

    Stephanie Hicks 

    6 years ago from Bend, Oregon

    I, too, am surprised that the hub categories did not include a subsection for heart attacks or heart disease for women. My grandmother had symptoms that she ignored for days before being rushed to the hospital. I think she was comparing what she was experiencing to what she had read with respect to men. Very important hub - rated up across the board!

  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    6 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    I read this was just for women. I would do anything just for one woman, my wife. My wife and I are both certified CPR, and we will have a true heart to heart talk about this, thank you.

  • Sherry Hewins profile image

    Sherry Hewins 

    6 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

    A friend of mine had a heart attack at 55. When she came back to work the first thing she said was "women need to know this, the symptoms are nothing like for a man." She had been at home all day having symptoms and had no idea she was having a heart attack. I'm sharing this hub because I think it is important information.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    6 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Very useful and informative hub ! A must read for all women! Great job!


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