Did you know that heart disease, not breast cancer, is the number one cause of death in women in the U.S.? This is despite the fact that for long, a heart attack was thought to be a man’s disease. Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack. However, scientists have discovered that there are other heart attack signs that you should look out for because they may not be so clear-cut. It has also emerged that women may not show the usual heart attack symptoms as men, and some may experience silent signs. When a heart attack strikes, getting immediate medical assistance is critical, and learning about the slightest signs of a heart attack can help you save the life of someone you love. Both women and men experience different symptoms, and some may not even realize it’s a heart attack. Here’s what you need to know about heart attack symptoms in men and women.

Chest Pain or Pressure

Like we mentioned earlier, chest pain is one of the common signs of a heart attack in men and women. The pain and discomfort are gradual, and some may dismiss this as regular heartburn or pulled muscle, only to realize it is more serious.

Both men and women may feel a lot of pressure on their chests like something is squeezing against the chest, and most people also dismiss this sign or wait for it to subside. In women, the chest pain can affect any part of the chest, not just the left side like in men. Failure to check in at the emergency room puts you at high risk of a heart attack since it happens randomly.

Shortness of Breath

If you suddenly experience difficulty in breathing, it could be a sign of a heart attack. This may feel like you have lifted a very heavy load or ran a marathon while you haven’t moved a muscle. It’s especially a reason for concern if the shortness in breathing is accompanied by other symptoms.


Breaking out in cold sweat when you are just sitting is another common sign of a cardiac arrest in women. This is not the normal perspiration you get when performing a physical activity, exercising or due to heat. If you don’t normally sweat like that, you should have it checked out immediately.

Stomach Pain

It’s easy to mistake stomach pain for heartburn, stomach ulcer or any other reason rather than cardiovascular disease. However, when you feel an immense abdominal pressure that doesn’t feel right, you should contact your cardiologist immediately. The feeling is very different from normal stomach discomfort and experts say that it feels like an elephant is sitting on your stomach!

Extreme Fatigue

You must find it strange to suddenly feel very tired while you’re just sitting, watching a movie. Extreme fatigue is a heart attack symptom that shouldn’t be ignored. You may find it difficult even to walk to the bathroom. Your chest feels certain tiredness that restricts your movement, and you won’t be able to perform simple activities around the house.

Inability to Sleep

There are certain symptoms that come out of the blue. For instance, if you’re unable to sleep either due to shortness of breath or severe pain in your abdomen, chest, throat or neck, then you could be having a heart attack. This should be a big concern, especially if you haven’t experienced such symptoms before. Other symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Indigestion.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Skin clamminess.
  • Back pain, especially in women.
  • Lack of energy or unexplained anxiety.
  • Pain in your arms.

What You Can Do When Someone is Having a Heart Attack

  1. Call 911 immediately.
  2. Provide the patient with aspirin to chew. Blood clots are responsible for heart attacks, and aspirin reduces the clots.
  3. Administer CPR if the patient has stopped breathing.

Risk Factors

There are various risk factors that can contribute to cardiac arrest both in women and men.

  • Obesity. Maintaining the recommended weight can lower your chances of a heart attack.
  • Age. Older women, 55 years and over, and men who are over 45 years are more likely to suffer a heart attack compared to young women and men.
  • High blood pressure. Arteries feed your heart with blood. When they are damaged due to high blood pressure, you’re at a higher risk of a heart attack.
  • Diabetes. A rise in your blood sugar is not healthy for your heart.
  • Family history. If you come from a family with known cases of heart attacks, you might be at risk.

How to Prevent a Heart Attack

If you know you’re at high risk of a heart attack, you need to take your prescription drugs with you, everywhere you go. It’s difficult to predict when a heart attack will happen, but with your medication within easy reach, you can save your life. On top of that, living a healthy lifestyle greatly contributes to a healthy heart. Quit smoking and excessive drinking, manage stress, exercise regularly, avoid junk food, and take plenty of fruits and water.

All images by Pixabay


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