Heart Attack Symptoms in Women Are Not What You’d Expect

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women Are Not What You’d Expect


A person grasping at their chest or experiencing numbness in their left arm is often the first thing that springs to mind when you think of a heart attack. Up until recently, clinicians assumed that men and women would experience symptoms in a similar manner. However, that is untrue. Only 30% of the 515 women polled for a 2003 National Institutes of Health research reported any chest pain while having a heart attack.


Women appear to experience heart attack symptoms that are distressingly subtler. Given that February is American Heart Month, here are the warning signs that ladies should be aware of.



In today's environment, anxiety is a way of life for most Americans. However, if you experience sudden spikes in tension or a sense of "impending doom," take a moment to relax. Your anxiousness can be attempting to communicate with you. The NIH study found that 35% of women had anxiety during their heart attacks.


Extreme fatigue

In the NIH research, 70% of the sampled women reported experiencing "unusual fatigue". Days or weeks before the attack, this fatigue may start to set in.

Sleep disturbance

This might be a warning sign if you're having trouble sleeping at night. 48 percent of the women reported sleep disruption as a symptom before their heart attacks, according to the NIH. 


Back, neck or jaw pain

Instead of an obvious chest pain, we may experience pain in the jaw, neck or lower or upper back. WebMD notes, “The pain can be gradual or sudden, and it may wax and wane before becoming intense. If you’re asleep, it may wake you up.”



Heart failure can cause abdominal swelling, which can show up as indigestion, nausea, lack of appetite and vomiting. In the NIH study, 39 percent of women reported these symptoms.


Flu-like symptoms

According to Women’s Heart Foundation, 71 percent of women report having flu-like symptoms leading up to more acute heart attack symptoms.


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