Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

by Larry Weinrauch, M.D. Health Professional

Heart attack symptoms are different for men and women. Dr. Weinrauch explains the warning signs women need to watch out for. Pass this along to someone you love.

Heart attack warning signs for women.

Very few pre-menopausal women have heart attacks, unless they smoke, have diabetes, or are on birth control pills for a long period of time. Smoking seems to be the biggest risk factor:

  • Nausea and vomiting that won't stop

  • Breathlessness (but not sighing) with exertion or especially if it wakes you up at night

  • Chest discomfort that starts behind the breast bone and radiates to either shoulder or arm, neck, or to the lower (but not upper) jaw

  • Discomfort in the lower jaw especially if it occurs only with exertion or will not go away

  • Discomfort in the upper back especially if it occurs only with exertion or will not go away

  • Discomfort in the chest or back that occurs when doing usual chores after a large meal

  • Sudden onset of weakness that won't go away

  • Sudden racing heart sensation with a very fast pulse

  • Sudden loss of consciousness

  • Physical inability to perform usual household chores

Who is most at risk with these symptoms?

The more of these factors that apply to you, the greater your risk:

  • Menstruation has stopped

  • Smoking

  • Family history of arteriosclerotic heart disease before age 60

  • High blood pressure (even treated)

  • Diabetes (even mild, even treated)

  • Obesity

  • High cholesterol (even treated)

Larry Weinrauch, M.D.
Meet Our Writer
Larry Weinrauch, M.D.

Larry Weinrauch is a cardiologist in Watertown, Massachusetts and is affiliated with Mount Auburn Hospital. He wrote for HealthCentral as a health professional for Heart Health, High Blood Pressure, and High Cholesterol.