Symptoms of Heart Attack in Women


Heart attack symptoms in women do not present the same as they do in men - and they aren’t always obvious. For example, not all women experience chest pain or discomfort. Sometimes, the only symptoms present are shortness of breath, nausea, shoulder pain, weakness and fatigue. Many women may just experience a cold sweat and dizziness.

“Classic” symptoms can be experienced by both men and women:


• Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back

• Discomfort or pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach

• Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort

• Lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea

• A feeling of indigestion


Women can also experience these symptoms:

  • Unusual chest pain, stomach or abdominal pain

  • Vomiting or dizziness

  • Unexplained anxiety, weakness or fatigue

  • Palpitations, cold sweat or paleness

These variations in symptoms are why heart attacks can be difficult to diagnose in women. If you think you may be having a heart attack, don’t dismiss your instincts. Seek prompt medical attention!


HSHS Holy Family Hospital is home to Prairie Heart Institute – the leading Heart Attack Specialists in the region. If you feel you are at risk for heart disease learn more here.