A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Heart attack symptoms, warning signs for men vs. women

Most heart attacks are associated with crushing chest pain and dramatic symptoms, but some heart attacks may be subtle. One thing is clear: Heart attack warning signs for men and women often are different.

“In women, heart attacks can present with atypical symptoms” said Dr. Michael McGillMarshfield Clinic Health System cardiology specialist. “Women may have a sudden feeling of fatigue or shortness of breath with no feeling of chest pain.”

Most heart attacks in men, however, involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. The chest discomfort can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.

Heart attacks are more than just chest pain in women

Women who have atypical symptoms are less likely to seek medical attention and continue to do their daily activities and not realize they are at risk for serious complications. “Delays in heart attack management can result in more complications and residual effects to the heart,” said Dr. McGill. “If you feel something is wrong, seek attention immediately. You are better to have a false alarm than to have a heart attack.”

Heart attacks can occur at very different ages for women and men as well. Heart attacks typically present 10 years later on average for women than men, but that does not guarantee that a younger woman cannot have heart disease. After menopause a woman’s risk for heart attacks is increased equivalent to men.

Improve your heart health

Cardiovascular disease is a serious concern. Mortality from cardiovascular disease in women now exceeds that from breast cancer. It is important to take preventive measures to ward off heart attacks. “Fortunately, heart disease is preventable. Everyone can modify their risk factors by managing low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, controlling blood pressure, eating right, exercising, and quitting smoking.” Dr. McGill said. “The key message is to listen to your body and understand that heart disease is preventable. See your doctor to assess your risk and modify your risk factors.”




heart attack warning signs for men and women beyond chest pain

For immediate care, visit Marshfield Clinic Health System.

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Related Shine365 articles

Heart attacks in women: 3 things to know

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