Men and women with heart disease may have different symptoms. For example, men with heart disease are more likely to feel chest pain during activity that goes away when they’re at rest. For women with heart disease, the opposite is more likely to happen.
Men having a heart attack commonly break out in a cold sweat and feel pain in the left arm. This is less likely to occur in women. And although chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom in both women and men, only half of women having a heart attack experience chest pain.
Some women do experience what is thought of as the "classic" heart attack symptom: crushing or squeezing pain in the chest. But many women experience other symptoms. Women should be on the lookout for the following:
- Chest pain, pressure or discomfort (angina) while you’re
- Sharp, burning feelings in your chest
- Pain or discomfort in your neck, throat, jaw, back or upper abdomen
- Pain or discomfort in your upper arms
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Shortness of breath or problems breathing
- Extreme fatigue
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Heart palpitations (feeling of fluttering in the chest)
- Swelling in your feet, legs, ankles or abdomen
- Physical symptoms that occur suddenly after an event that is extremely stressful (physical or emotional stress)
Keep in mind that heart disease doesn’t always cause symptoms—women and men with a condition known as silent heart disease experience no symptoms at all. In fact, more than 60% percent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.
That’s why, even if you have no symptoms, it’s important to have regular check-ups with your primary care provider and to make an appointment with a heart specialist if your primary care provider recommends it.