Heart Attack: An In-depth Look into the Symptoms in Women and Risk Factors

Heart Attack: An In-depth Look into the Symptoms in Women and Risk Factors

01 Aug 2020

Heart attacks are a severe condition that has claimed many lives, and the number keeps on rising. Heart attacks can be a dreadful experience, especially if you or someone you care about has been affected by it.

Heart attacks are a common occurrence in America and across the globe. It is one of the conditions that send many people to seek emergency treatment.

Do not fret, though; tens of thousands of people survive and live healthy, productive lives. However, the challenge is to know the symptoms so as it can be treated before the situation becomes severe.

In America, heart attacks are the leading cause of death in both women and men. The reason is that some of the symptoms that women experience may differ from those that men experience. Therefore, most women are unable to tell whether they have a heart attack or not.

However, if you can learn the unique symptoms that women experience, it can be the difference between life and death.

About Heart Attacks in Women

In a nutshell, your heart needs oxygen and nutrients to function. An obstruction in the arteries that supply the heart, either by fatty deposits or blood clots can cause a heart attack. At times, substances like cholesterol form plaque, which lines the arteries’ walls and can cause a blockage.

If the plaque causes the artery to rupture, a blood clot can form in the efforts to seal the wound. The clot can cause blockage and interrupt the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the heart.

The heart attack causes are the same in men and women; however, women are usually less likely to bounce back from their first attack than men. Also, most women tend to experience “silent” heart attacks or display unique symptoms. When silent heart attacks occur, you might notice the symptoms, yet the damage has already been done.

Female biology also plays some part in increasing the risk of women not surviving their first heart attack.

Symptoms of Heart Attack in Women

Generally, most common heart attack symptoms that men experience are the same as women. But in women, chest pain is not the most noticeable or severe symptom in women. For women, they can have a heart attack without experiencing chest pain. Most women might describe it as chest pressure or chest discomfort.

In most cases, women will experience heart attack symptoms that are not related to chest pain, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Extreme or unusual fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Upper body pain or discomfort (neck, jaw, shoulder, abdominal or upper back)
  • Pain in one or both arms

These symptoms are easily ignored and may seem unnecessary for you to call our emergency room in Houston. This is why heart attacks go unnoticed in women since the characteristic pain in the chest that is associated with heart attacks is absent.

Some of the symptoms that women experience happen when they are resting or even sleeping, so they may think they have something else altogether.


When you have a heart attack, every minute counts, since, with every passing second, heart tissue dies or deteriorates when blood flow is not restored promptly.

Heart attack treatment may include:

  • Medications such as antiplatelet agents, pain relievers, beta-blockers among others
  • Surgery
  • Cardiac rehabilitation

Risk Factors

Women and men share the traditional risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity. Other than those, other factors affect women, such as:

  • Diabetes in women is more likely to increase the risk of getting a heart attack than men
  • Smoking
  • Mental stress and depression
  • Menopause
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can increase the risk of heart attacks in women
  • Family history of heart disease

Women of all ages should be on the lookout for heart attack symptoms. Women under 65 years who have a family history of heart attacks should pay close attention to heart attack risk factors to prevent them from happening.

A healthy lifestyle is critical in lowering the chances of you getting a heart attack. This might mean that you have to eat a healthy diet, find healthier ways of managing stress, and exercise, among other healthier strategies.

In case you experience any of the symptoms discussed above, do not hesitate to call our doctor at Memorial Village ER.

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