Are Heart Attack Symptoms Different for Men and Women?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is a leading cause of death among both men and women. In fact, statistics show that one person succumbs to heart disease every 34 seconds in the U.S.

Emergency medical care is crucial when symptoms of heart disease present, so it’s important for people to know what to look for. Additionally, you must also be aware of the different symptoms that can affect men and women. While some symptoms occur in both groups, biological differences can alter the experiences of men and women suffering from this medical condition. Accordingly, here are the symptoms you must watch for to ensure you receive timely treatment if needed.

Common Heart Attack Symptoms That Affect Both Men and Women

Chest pain and pressure in the chest are common indications that a heart attack is occurring, regardless of gender. Many people liken the feeling to an elephant sitting on the chest, which leads to an inability to catch one’s breath. Keep in mind that pain caused by a heart attack can feel mild at first and get worse over time. Other symptoms include pain in the jaw, shoulders, arms, back, and neck, lightheadedness, and nausea.

Symptoms More Common in Women

As compared to men, women are more likely to experience heart attack symptoms beyond chest pain (although many women still experience discomfort in the chest when having a heart attack). For instance, women are more likely to suffer from these atypical symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Discomfort between the shoulder blades
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Abdominal pain similar to indigestion

Because atypical symptoms make it harder to identify when a heart attack is occurring, women must pay close attention to signs and signals being provided by their bodies. Keep in mind that medical professionals can also overlook these symptoms, especially if chest pain is not a factor.

How Men and Women Can Lower Their Risk of Heart Attack

In addition to knowing what symptoms to look for, men and women are also encouraged to take steps to improve their heart health. For instance, being aware of common risk factors can help you make changes to your lifestyle. Heart attack risk factors can include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, family history, and many others. As for women, autoimmune conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis) and menopause can also increase risk. Menopause can raise testosterone levels or contribute to hypertension, both of which are associated with a higher risk of heart attacks.

In addition to speaking with your doctor about your unique risk profile, men and women can also take the following healthy steps:

  • Establish a low-fat diet that is also high in fiber.
  • Avoid processed foods.
  • Exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes a day at least 3 times a week to lower your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and other conditions.
  • Avoid cigarettes and alcohol.
  • Track your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Make sure your doctor is aware of any family history of heart disease.

These steps can effectively lower your heart attack risk and ensure optimum wellness. You should also take steps to better understand your complete medical history, which is precisely where the free DrOwl app comes in. This app allows you to easily store medical records from the VA, Medicare, and numerous other healthcare providers. It also offers access to physician-trusted resources that can help you better understand your conditions and medications.

If you experience any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to get help. Call 911 immediately and follow any instructions provided. Always wait for first responders and never attempt to drive yourself to the hospital if you believe you’re having a heart attack. Take slow, deep breaths, and do your best to remain calm while you wait for assistance.