Heart Attack Signals: Know the Different Symptoms for Men and Women


shutterstock_96965339When someone clutches their chest in pain, we act immediately to get them medical attention. Chest pain has become synonymous with heart attacks. However there’s a range of other symptoms that signal a person might be experiencing a heart attack. It’s important to understand some of the lesser-known signs that may indicate when a person is in cardiac distress. It could be a matter of life and death.

Heart Attack Symptoms Shared by Men and Women

Heart attacks can happen suddenly or can develop gradually over several hours or days. There are a number of heart attack symptoms that both women and men can experience. These include:

  • Tightness or pain in chest
  • Pain that spreads from chest to shoulders, neck, arm or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or fainting

Although the most common symptom is chest pain, women are more likely than men to experience other symptoms, including shortness of breath, back or jaw pain and nausea and vomiting.

Symptoms Unique to Women

Women can have a very different heart attack experience than men, or may downplay their symptoms. Many women mistake their own heart attack symptoms for acid reflux or the flu. Any of the following may indicate that a woman is suffering from cardiac distress and needs immediate medical care:

  • Indigestion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unexplained weakness and fatigue
  • Pain or discomfort between shoulder blades

Don’t Hesitate to Call 911

If you suspect you or someone else may be experiencing heart attack symptoms, call 911 immediately. The operator may instruct you to crush or chew an aspirin. Heart attacks are caused by blood clots in the arteries, and aspirin can reduce the clots. This action can prevent further damage to the heart and may be life-saving.