Female and their Heart Disease

Signs and Symptoms

Heart disease symptoms can look and feel very different in men and women.

Although many women will have the classic crushing central chest pain, which is often thought of as the hallmark sign of a heart attack, women often experience three or more additional symptoms when they have a heart attack. Tragically, heart attack or sudden cardiac death can be the first symptom of coronary artery disease in women, especially younger women.

This underscores the importance of always knowing your risk factors for heart disease – you won’t know if you don’t get checked. High blood pressure, for example, is often called a “silent killer” because it has no symptoms. In other words, the only way to know if your blood pressure is high – or becoming too high – is to check your blood pressure readings over time. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart attack and stroke.

What a Heart Attack Feels Like

Chest pain or discomfort is the most common symptom of a heart attack for both men and women. But women are more likely than men to have additional symptoms as well, such as nausea and shortness of breath.

Chest Pain Can Feel LikeOther Symptoms Include
Chest pressure, tightness, squeezing or burningDiscomfort in your chest, shoulders, arms, back, neck, or jawPain that travels down one or both armsShortness of breathUnusual or extreme tirednessFeeling dizzy or lightheadedNausea or vomitingCold sweatAnxiety

There are many ways CAD can be diagnosed. Visit the Exams and Tests section of our Coronary Artery Disease resource. 

The choices you make every day can play a large role in determining your risk for coronary artery disease and how quickly it might progress. Positive lifestyle changes are very important and can help to prevent CAD and delay its progression.

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