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Men vs. women: Heart symptoms to know

Thursday, November 09, 2023 11:48 AM

By NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health

It’s probably safe to say everyone is familiar with the common symptoms of a heart attack.

In fact, the first thing people often think of is likely the movie version, where a man in sudden agony clutches his chest and staggers before falling.

While the Hollywood version isn’t always realistic, it’s often somewhat in line with what a man would experience during a heart attack.

In a tricky twist, the same doesn’t always hold true for what women experience during a heart attack.

“While the most common heart attack symptoms for both men and women is pain, tightness or pressure in the chest, there are other symptoms women may be more likely to experience that may seem unrelated,” said Cash Casey, MD, cardiologist with Midwest Cardiovascular Institute at Elmhurst Hospital, part of NorthShore – Edward-Elmhurst Health.

“Heart attacks can cause symptoms that mimic other illnesses, so it’s important to know the potential atypical symptoms.”

The American Heart Association reports that cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women, more than all forms of cancer combined. Considering the statistic that someone in the U.S. has a heart attack every 40 seconds, everyone should know what to look for.

Man and woman making eye contact

Heart attack symptoms common in men

  • Squeezing chest pressure or pain
  • Jaw, neck or back pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath

Heart attack symptoms more common in women

  • Chest pain, but not always
  • Pain or pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen
  • Jaw, neck or upper back pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Indigestion
  • Extreme fatigue

If you experience any of the above symptoms, call 911 and get help immediately.

Learn more about our emergency care.

Your heart is in good hands when you choose us for cardiovascular care. Learn more about our high-quality heart care.