Women’s Heart Disease: Three Steps To Lower Risk

Heart attack symptoms for women

The most common heart attack symptom in women is the same as in men — some type of chest pain, pressure or discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes.

But chest pain is not always severe or even the most noticeable symptom, particularly in women. Women often describe heart attack pain as pressure or tightness. And it’s possible to have a heart attack without chest pain.

Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as:

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or upper belly (abdomen) discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Heartburn (indigestion)

These symptoms may be vague and not as noticeable as the crushing chest pain often associated with heart attacks. This might be because women tend to have blockages not only in their main arteries but also in the smaller ones that supply blood to the heart — a condition called small vessel heart disease or coronary microvascular disease.