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Women’s Heart Attack Symptoms Can Be Different than Men’s

Friday, February 02, 2018 7:22 AM

Most of us associate heart attack symptoms with chest and arm pain. That is a common sign for men, but not necessarily for women. Most women chalk up symptoms to something like acid reflux or aging, but not a problem with their heart.


Eileen Kelly, MD, Cardiology at NorthShore, shares the common heart attack signs for women:

  • Pain in the center of the chest that may feel like a pressure, squeezing or pain that can last a few minutes or comes and goes
  • Pain or discomfort in the back, neck, jaw, stomach or in one or both of the arms
  • Shortness of breath that may be accompanied with chest discomfort
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness

While the most common symptom for both men and women is chest pain, women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea, or back or jaw pain.  If you have any of these signs, call 911 and get to the hospital right away.

Dr. Kelly recommends following a heart healthy diet, exercising most days a week and quitting smoking to protect the heart against heart disease, the number one killer in women. Both men and women should schedule annual exams with their primary care doctor to monitor the health of their heart, as well as their body.

How are you taking care of your heart health?