Heart Disease Symptoms in Women

Although some people view heart disease largely as a male problem, more women than men die of heart disease each year. Heart disease symptoms in women can look and feel different from symptoms in men.


Fortunately, women can take steps to understand the warning signs and begin to reduce their risk of heart disease.

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

While the most common symptom for both genders is discomfort in the chest or upper body, women may also experience:


  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, or upper back pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain or heartburn
  • Sweating and dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue

These symptoms are more subtle than the obvious crushing chest pain typically associated with heart attacks. This may be because women tend to have blockages not only in their main arteries, but also in the smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart.


This condition is called small vessel heart disease or microvascular disease. Women often mistake the warning signs of a heart attack for a more common, less life-threatening ailment like acid reflux, the flu or normal changes with age.

Heart Attacks in Women: Treatment

Often, female heart attack patients arrive in emergency rooms after much damage has already occurred to their heart. This is because their symptoms are not those typically associated with a heart attack. Most heart attacks begin with mild symptoms. Call 911 immediately if symptoms persist. Getting treatment quickly minimizes damage to your heart and improves your chances of survival.