Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)

  • Medical Author:
    Daniel Lee Kulick, MD, FACC, FSCAI

    Dr. Kulick received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Southern California, School of Medicine. He performed his residency in internal medicine at the Harbor-University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and a fellowship in the section of cardiology at the Los Angeles County-University of Southern California Medical Center. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiology.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

View the Heart Disease Slideshow

Quick GuideHeart Disease: Causes of a Heart Attack

Heart Disease: Causes of a Heart Attack

What are the symptoms of heart attack in women and how is heart attack diagnosed?

Women are more likely to encounter delays in establishing the diagnosis of heart attack than men. This is in part because women tend to seek medical care later than men, and in part because diagnosing heart attacks in women can sometimes be more difficult than diagnosing heart attacks in men. The reasons include:

  1. Women are more likely than men to have atypical heart attack symptoms such as:
  2. Silent heart attacks (heart attacks with little or no symptoms) are more common among women than among men.
  3. Women have a higher occurrence than men of chest pain that is not caused by heart disease, for example chest pain from spasm of the esophagus.
  4. Women are less likely than men to have the typical findings on the ECG that are necessary to diagnose a heart attack quickly.
  5. Women are more likely than men to have angina (chest pain due to lack of blood supply to the heart muscle) that is caused by spasm of the coronary arteries or caused by disease of the smallest blood vessels (microvasculature disease). Cardiac catheterization with coronary angiograms (X-ray studies of the coronary arteries that are considered the most reliable tests for CAD) will reveal normal coronary arteries and therefore cannot be used to diagnose either of these two conditions.
  6. Women are more likely to have misleading, or "false positive" noninvasive tests for CAD then men that don't disclose the arterial disease that is present.

Because of the atypical nature of symptoms and the occasional difficulties in diagnosing heart attacks in women, women are less likely to receive aggressive thrombolytic therapy or coronary angioplasty, and are more likely to receive it later than men. Women also are less likely to be admitted to a coronary care unit.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/29/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Heart Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Heart attack - Symptoms

    The symptoms of heart attack can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?

    Post View 44 Comments
  • Heart Attack - Treatments

    What was the treatment for your heart attack?

    Post View 11 Comments
  • Heart Attack - Diagnosis

    Please describe the events that led to a diagnosis of a heart attack. What tests and exams did you have?

    Post View 6 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors