The classic symptoms of heart attack include a feeling of extreme pressure on the chest and chest pain, including a squeezing or full sensation. This can be accompanied by pain in one or both arms, jaw, back, stomach, or neck. Other symptoms of heart attack include shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, and a sweating feeling, often described as breaking out in a cold sweat. Although chest pain and pressure are the characteristic symptoms, women are somewhat more likely than men to experience heart attack that does not occur in this typical fashion. Instead, some women with heart attacks may experience more of the other symptoms, like lightheadedness, nausea, extreme fatigue, fainting, dizziness, or pressure in the upper back. Because of the absence of typical symptoms associated with heart attacks in men, many women who have heart attacks think the symptoms are due to another condition, like the flu or gastroesophageal reflux.
Causes of heart attack in women
Heart disease, especially coronary artery disease, is the main cause of heart attacks in women and in men. Atherosclerosis is a gradual process in which plaques (deposits) of cholesterol are deposited in the walls of arteries. This is referred to as "hardening of the arteries." Coronary atherosclerosis (or coronary artery disease) refers to the atherosclerosis that causes hardening and narrowing of the coronary arteries. Diseases caused by the reduced blood supply to the heart muscle from coronary atherosclerosis are called coronary heart diseases (CHD) and include heart attack, in which there is not enough oxygen-rich blood delivered to the heart muscle itself. Symptoms of angina occur when there is a lack of blood supply to the heart muscles. These symptoms (chest pain and pressure) at rest infrequently may be due to spasm of a coronary artery (a condition called Prinzmetal's or variant angina).
Other heart attack in women symptoms and signs
- Arm Pain
- Back Pain
- Back Pressure
- Breaking Out in a Cold Sweat
- Chest Fullness
- Chest Pain
- Chest Pressure
- Chest Tightness
- Jaw Pain
- Neck Pain
- Shortness of Breath
- Stomach Pain
Main Article on Heart Attack in Women Symptoms and Signs
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Am I Having a Heart Attack? Symptoms of Heart Disease
Heart attacks symptoms vary greatly for men and women, from anxiety and fatigue to nausea and sweating. Learn the warning signs...
Heart Disease Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Take our Heart Disease Quiz to get answers and facts about high cholesterol, atherosclerosis prevention, and the causes,...
Heart Disease: Causes of a Heart Attack
Heart disease prevention includes controlling risk factors like diet, exercise, and stress. Heart disease symptoms in women may...
Heart Disease: Symptoms, Signs, and Causes
What is heart disease (coronary artery disease)? Learn about the causes of heart disease, arrhythmias and myopathy. Symptoms of...
Sudden Cardiac Arrest - Test Your Heart Health IQ
Take the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Quiz. Learning about this potentially deadly condition may save a life.
Examples of Medications for Heart Attack in Women Symptoms and Signs
- abciximab - injection, Reopro
- alteplase (TPA, Activase, Cathflo Activase)
- Betapace (sotalol)
- Brilinta (ticagrelor)
- Camzyos (mavacamten)
- Carospir (spironolactone)
- clopidogrel bisulfate (Plavix)
- coenzyme Q10
- dalteparin injection (Fragmin)
- dalteparin vial - injection, Fragmin
- eptifibatide - injection, Integrilin
- heparin (Hemochron, Hep-Lock)
- heparin lock flush-injection, Hep-Lock
- Lovenox (enoxaparin)
- Nitrates (Medication)
- Side Effects of Kengreal (cangrelor)
- Side Effects of Repatha (evolocumab)
- sodium bicarbonate
- ticlopidine, Ticlid (discontinued brand in the US)
- Vyndaqel and Vyndamax (tafamidis meglumine and tafamidis)
Healthy Heart Resources
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Heart Health Newsletter
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.