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Recognizing the Signs of a Heart Attack in a Woman

Last updated 3 years ago

Many people think of heart attacks as being a man’s problem. In reality, heart disease is the most common killer of both men and women in the United States, and women are just as vulnerable to heart attacks as men. More women die of heart attacks, however, because they tend to delay seeking help. A big obstacle in women getting the help they need during a heart attack is being unaware of the symptoms women commonly experience. Few women experience the dramatic, chest-clutching type of heart attack depicted in the movies, and instead have subtle symptoms that may develop slowly. Get to know these signs of heart attacks in woman and get emergency care if you or someone you love experiences them. Fast care during heart attacks saves lives.

Chest Discomfort

Although not all women experience chest pain during a heart attack, some do. However, women often have different kinds of chest pain than men. It’s more common for women to feel pressure or fullness that comes and goes or lasts for a few minutes. Women are more likely than men to experience other kinds of pain either with chest pain or instead of it, including pain in the arms, back, neck, or jaw.

Shortness of Breath

For some women, shortness of breath is the only symptom they experience. Some heart attack survivors describe feeling like they have been very active when they have been sitting still. The shortness of breath can lead to dizziness and fainting.


Women may experience extreme fatigue during a heart attack as well as in the days leading up to one. This fatigue can sometimes convince women that they have another condition and are not having a heart attack. For instance, some heart attack survivors thought that they had the flu when in fact a heart attack was to blame.

If you experience heart attack symptoms, don’t delay seeking treatment in the emergency services department of Northside Hospital. Our Tampa Bay Heart Institute can make a fast diagnosis so you can get the emergency care you need. Call our St. Petersburg hospital at (888) 598-9586 for more information. 


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Disclaimer: The materials provided are intended for informational purposes only. You should contact your doctor for medical advice. Use of and access to this website or other materials do not create a physician-patient relationship. The opinions expressed through this website are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the hospital, medical staff, or any individual physician or other healthcare professional.
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