Heart attack in women: symptoms, cause and treatment

What are the woman's heart attack symptoms? In the event of a heart attack, women may have different symptoms than men, so that an (approaching) heart attack is often not recognized by women. Heart attack is a common name for heart attack (medical: myocardial infarction). A heart attack arises because a blood clot has formed in the left or right coronary artery - the vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle - so that part of the heart muscle no longer receives oxygen-rich blood and fuel and can die as a result. If the blood vessel is unclogged within two hours by means of a dotter treatment, the chance of full recovery is high. It is therefore important to recognize a heart attack and to seek medical assistance immediately if you suspect a heart attack.

Heart attack symptoms woman

Symptoms heart attack

Women do not always get the same classic heart attack symptoms as men often get, such as pain in the middle of the chest or perhaps something on the left, which is pressing or sneezing in nature and can radiate to the upper arms, neck, jaw, back and stomach. . This oppressive or oppressive pain in the middle of the chest also lasts longer than five minutes when at rest. The symptoms can be accompanied by sweating, nausea or vomiting. Practice shows that a heart attack in women is often not noticed (in time) because women often have other symptoms than the above-mentioned characteristic symptoms that are more common in men. The symptoms of a heart attack that occur in women are generally much more vague. Young men are more likely to have a heart attack than women, but because of the difficult recognisability of the symptoms, the outcome is much more fatal for young women.

The most important heart attack symptoms in women

These six most common heart attack symptoms that can occur in women are:
  1. Chestpain;
  2. Pain in the upper arms, neck, jaw and back;
  3. Pain in upper abdomen;
  4. Shortness of breath, nausea or dizziness;
  5. Sweating (sweating);
  6. Fatigue.

These complaints are discussed below successively.


Chest pain is the most common and characteristic symptom of a heart attack. This pain is often pressing or constricting in nature and is usually observed in the middle of the chest or slightly to the left. However, some women experience it differently than most men. The pain can feel like a pinching pain at the top of the chest or a tightness in the chest. The pain can manifest anywhere in the chest, not just in the middle or on the left. You may feel as if you are being squeezed in a vice. A woman may also experience an unpleasant feeling of tightness or pressure in the breast area.

Pain in the upper arms, neck, jaw and back

Pain especially in the back of the back, the left jaw angle, armpits, neck and shoulders and upper abdomen are complaints that are more common in women than in men. It can cause confusion in women because they expect pain in the chest in a heart attack and not in the upper arms, neck, jaw and back. The pain can occur gradually or suddenly and it can decrease or disappear, after which it increases in intensity. If you sleep, it can wake you up. You should discuss any non-typical or inexplicable complaint in any part of your body above your waist with your doctor or other healthcare provider.

Pain in upper abdomen

Sometimes people confuse upper abdominal pain that results from a heart attack with heartburn, a (stomach) flu or a stomach ulcer. It may also be that a woman suffers from severe abdominal pain in the upper abdomen, which feels like an elephant is sitting on her stomach.

Shortness of breath, nausea or dizziness

If you have trouble breathing for no apparent reason, this could indicate a heart attack - especially if this is accompanied by one or more of the other symptoms discussed. It may feel as if you have run a marathon while, so to speak, you have not left the bank.

To sweat

You can break out the cold sweat on all sides. This is relatively common among women who have a heart attack. It feels more like sweating related to stress than sweating as a result of physical exertion or the exercise of sports activities, or sweating as a result of summer heat.


Some women who have a heart attack feel extremely tired even after sitting or lying down for a while or otherwise rested. Patients often complain of a tired feeling in the chest. They say they cannot do simple activities such as walking to the bathroom. Every effort that has to be made is too much.

Misunderstood symptoms weeks prior to heart attack

American research shows that a heart attack in women can already be announced weeks in advance due to unusual (misunderstood) great fatigue, sleep disorders and shortness of breath. Be alert to this.

Woman is twice as likely to die after heart attack

Women are about twice as likely to die from a heart attack as men, according to research by Dr. Guillaume Leurent from the Center Hospitalier Universitaire in Rennes. This is because in the event of a heart attack, women wait longer to call an ambulance. They are also treated less effectively by doctors than men.
Very often women do not believe that they have a heart attack, especially since it is often seen as a male problem. That is also what many doctors still think, as a result of which they treat a woman with heart problems less well.

Wait longer for treatment

The study analyzed data from 5,000 heart patients in the countries of Great Britain and France, including 1,174 women. The female patients were found to be older than the male: on average 69 years compared to 61 years. They also had high blood pressure more often, but smoked less often than men. The results show that women wait longer between the onset of symptoms and calling in help. On average women only call after one hour, while men call an ambulance after only 44 minutes. After arrival at the hospital, women also have to wait longer for treatment.

Women die more often from a heart attack

About 9% of the women died of the heart attack in the hospital, against just 4% of the men. That difference also persisted when the delay in treatment was taken into account. In addition, women had more than twice as much risk of complications, such as arrhythmias. Still, women received less medication afterwards, such as statins, to prevent a second heart attack. (Medscape Medical News, October 25, 2012)

Video: How to Diagnose Heart Disease in Women (April 2020).

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