Health > What are the Key Heart Attack Symptoms in Women?
29th Mar 2022

What are the Key Heart Attack Symptoms in Women?

Heart diseases are statistically considered a more prominent issue for men than women. However, studies have shown that heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases are still one of the leading causes of death for all genders globally. This article, however, revolves around heart attack symptoms in women, as the symptoms and the factors resulting in the condition for both genders can be different. We hope this article gives you a better understanding of heart attacks and their symptoms in females while helping you better avoid them. 

Heart Attack Symptoms In Women  

Chest pain, pressure, or discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes, is one of the most common symptoms of heart-related diseases seen in both genders. However, in women, this symptom doesn’t bring a noticeable amount of pain, and so it gets overlooked. Women have described this feeling as a slight tightness in their chest. It’s often possible for women to get a heart attack without feeling pain before the event.   

Usually, heart attack symptoms in women are unrelated to chest pains, instead, they experience –   

  1. Discomforting feeling in areas like the jaw, the neck, around the shoulders, back, and pain in the upper torso and above the stomach 
  2. Dyspnea or trouble breathing 
  3. Pain, usually in the left or both arms  
  4. Nausea   
  5. Heavy sweating  
  6. Feeling dizzy or light-headed 
  7. Severe fatigue  
  8. Heartburn   

Bear in mind that the above-listed symptoms aren’t quite as noticeable as the severe ache you experience through chest pains.   

Heart attacks in women are often a result of artery blockages. This blocks blood flow to their hearts. The heart attack symptoms in women usually show up when they are resting, unlike in men. A disturbed emotional state has been observed to be a trigger for heart attacks in women. 

Although statistically, men are proven to be more at risk of heart attacks, with more recorded cases relating to cardiovascular diseases, women are no less at risk of heart attacks. Instead, they are just diagnosed lesser than men as their symptoms are usually less painful and hence not always accorded the required seriousness. As most women have artery blockages, biologically women are more at risk of heart attacks and strokes than men.   

When Should You Consult Or Visit A Doctor?  

Whenever you feel any symptoms listed above and think you are about to have a heart attack, please call your emergency helpline immediately and consult a professional. Please do not think of driving yourself to the hospital if you have any symptoms unless it is an absolute necessity. 

Risk Factors Of Heart Attacks In Women  

Let us begin this list with the most common risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in women, those being – higher than normal cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and being obese. These factors are common for both genders. However, there are secondary factors that play a major role in women. These heart attack risk factors include: 

  • Diabetes - Women diagnosed with diabetes are more at risk of developing cardiovascular or other heart-related diseases than men facing diabetes. Since diabetes tends to lower the feeling of pain in women, they face silent heart attacks a lot more than men.  
  • Stress or a depressed state of mind -  Emotional stress in women is a major trigger of heart attacks and mental health should therefore be taken care of. 
  • Smoking – Smoking has a much higher chance of inducing heart attacks or other cardiovascular diseases in women.  
  • Inactivity – Physical exercises are really important for women’s heart health, and they also help their mental state.  
  • Menopause -  As women get older and reach menopause their estrogen levels get lower, putting them at a higher risk of heart attacks.   
  • Pregnancy complications - Pregnant women who are diabetic, or face high blood pressure end up more at risk for strokes and other heart-related diseases.  
  • Family history of early heart disease – Genetic heart disorders increase the risks in women more than in men.  
  • Diseases like arthritis, lupus and other inflammatory conditions equally affect heart conditions in men and women.  

All ladies need to take care of their heart health by leading a healthy lifestyle. However, ladies under 65 and ladies with a family history of heart conditions are at a much higher risk than others. 

Home Remedies And Lifestyle Changes That Prevent Heart Attacks 

Having a healthy lifestyle is always a plus point in anyone’s life, as it can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Here is a list of things that you should do for a healthy lifestyle -   

  • Quitting smoking – It is a great start if you don’t smoke, but remember that even when people around you are smoking that puts you at risk of second-hand indirect smoking. This damages your blood vessels more than you might think. 
  • Healthy dietary options – Healthy foods like fruits, green vegetables, and organic whole foods are a great way to start your meals. Avoid foods with high sugar and salt content. Foods with high-fat contents can increase your cholesterol levels, which also put your heart at risk.   
  • Exercising – Physical exercise helps you stay in shape and regulate your body weight at a healthy level. There are tons of exercises tailored for your needs that you can research and incorporate into your day-to-day life.   
  • Managing stress levels – Stress, as we discussed before can be a major trigger for heart attacks in women. Activities like yoga and exercise have proven to lower stress levels, reducing the risk of heart disease in women. 
  • Avoid alcohol - If you choose to drink alcohol, do it in moderation. For healthy adults, that means up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.  
  • Take your medications on time.   

Heart Health To Avoid Heart Ailments 

An active physical routine is always beneficial for your heart. Try to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. Different exercises can be tried based on your current health and flexibility. Research them before committing to your routine. 

Starting with a 30-minute daily exercise routine is an ideal way to start your healthy heart journey. With further progress, start increasing your duration, first shooting for 45 minutes and then 60 minutes when you are comfortable. Please limit yourself and do not push your limit, as health is a journey and not an obstacle. Maintain this routine 5 days a week, and please take plenty of rest the other days as your body needs this crucial time to heal and perform better for the next cycle.  

Keep in mind, it is perfectly fine to take breaks in the middle and this shouldn’t discourage you in any shape, way, or form. 

Small changes in your day-to-day lifestyle can make a lot of difference. We overlook the simple alterations often, but here are some things you can add as supplements to your journey: 

  • Taking the stairs instead of waiting for a lift.  
  • Cycling or walking for your home-related chores.  
  • Marching in place while at home.  

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long can a woman have symptoms before an actual heart attack?  

It is a common myth that all heart attacks are sudden and cannot be predicted, that is rarely the case. Women tend to see clear symptoms weeks before the heart episode although sometimes these symptoms are overlooked as the chest pain in women is lower than in men sometimes even unnoticeable, however, there are many secondary symptoms women may face.  

Can a woman have a heart attack and not know it?  

Yes, this is possible and these cases of heart attacks are called silent heart attacks. This usually happens due to the blockages found in the arteries of women.