Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Women

You’ve likely heard about the gripping chest pressure or pain that someone may feel during a heart attack. This is universally true, but women also can have non-chest pain symptoms during a heart attack and less obvious warning signs.

So, how do I know if I’m having a heart attack if the symptoms are not always obvious? 

Symptoms of a heart attack

  • Chest pain, but not always
  • Pain or pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen
  • Jaw, neck or upper back pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Feeling a cold sweat
  • Indigestion
  • Extreme fatigue

The symptoms of extreme fatigue and nausea or vomiting occur in women. 

Women may also describe chest pain in different ways. For some, it may feel more like pressure. For others, it can be a tightness. What’s important is if something feels wrong, seek help.

Here are a few more facts about women and heart attacks:

  • Women are more likely to have more than one heart attack symptom.
  • Many women report that something felt off before they had a heart attack, although they could not pinpoint why.
  • It is better to get checked out for a potential heart attack, even if you are not sure that is what it is. 

What do I do if I’m having a heart attack?

If you experience any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Dial 911 immediately and follow the operator’s instructions. Don’t drive yourself to the hospital. The longer you wait, the harder a heart attack is to treat. Heart attack symptoms that last more than five minutes should prompt an emergency call.
  • Let the 911 operator know your address. Say, “I think I’m having a heart attack.” Don’t hang up the phone. 
  • Follow any instructions given by the 911 operator. They may ask you to take an aspirin or nitroglycerin if you have it.
  • Try to stay as calm as possible and take deep, slow breaths while you wait for the emergency responders.
  • Unlock the door. Lay on the floor where emergency responder workers can see you.

Women who think they’re healthy often misread the symptoms of a heart attack because they don’t think it could happen to them. That’s why it’s crucial to learn about heart attacks, know your numbers and live heart-healthy.