Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction) Signs and Symptoms in Women

Monika Pawar   by Monika Pawar, MS    Last updated on May 18, 2018,

symptoms of heart attack in women

 

Early signs and symptoms of heart attack (myocardial infarction) in women

Symptoms of heart attack in women vary greatly. Some may experience one or two symptoms at a time while others may show all or many symptoms. There are women who show no symptoms before their heart attack. The sooner the symptoms are recognized and appropriate action is taken, the better it is for them.

Recently, scientists have found that heart attack symptoms can be quite different for women than for men. The most important and most common symptom in women is not chest pain. Instead, most women reported unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances, and anxiety as the early and main symptoms. Nearly 80 percent of women patients reported that at least one symptom occurred for more than a month before their heart attack.

More: Human Heart: Anatomy, Function, Chambers, Location, Facts

Female heart attack symptoms include:

Unusual fatigue

All women of this world are busy most of the time. They take care of their family, manage a household, work outside the home and also care for their aging parents. Being tired a lot of the time is normal for them. But, if the fatigue is new or dramatic, it should not be ignored. Here are few things which they should watch out for:

  • Suddenly worn out after a typical exercise routine.
  • Having fatigue or a “heavy” chest in spite of no exertion.
  • A simple activity like making the bed, walking to the bathroom or shopping makes you excessively tired.
  • Experiencing sleep disturbance even after feeling exceptionally tired.

Sweating

Some women complain about hot flashes during menopause. But this symptom can refer to a heart problem when it happens in certain situations like:

  • Sudden sweating without exertion
  • “Stress” sweat experienced without any stress
  • Sweating along with other symptoms like chest pain

Neck, jaw or back pain

Whenever there is something wrong with the body, it tries to give signals. For example, when a person has a problem with the heart, some nerves are triggered in that area, but the pain is felt elsewhere. Pain in the jaw, back or arms may signal a heart condition, especially if it is difficult to point out the origin of the pain.  

Pain in the lower or upper back may indicate stress to the heart muscle. The pain is sometimes sudden and intense, so much that it can wake you up at night.

More: Heart Attack Symptoms in Men (Myocardial Infarction Symptoms in Men)

More: Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Shortness of breath

Shortness of breath is the common issue seen as women age because of lack of exercise and gradual weight gain. But if it happens in certain situations, it may lead to heart attack. Such situations may include:

  • Sudden shortness of breath without any exertion
  • Breathlessness after exertion that continues to worsen over time
  • Shortness of breath that worsens when lying down
  • Shortness of breath along with chest pain

Nausea

Flu-like symptoms are often reported by some women weeks and days before a heart attack.

Other MI symptoms

Some other MI symptoms (myocardial infarction symptoms) in females include:

  • Light-headedness
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • A pressure in the upper back
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms
  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your
  • A feeling of indigestion or reflux type pain
  • Feeling sick
  • Sleep disturbances