Heart Attack Symptoms Women Easily Overlook

by WiseFool

The symptoms of a heart attack come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are easy to ignore, but may prove fatal.

Largely thanks to movies and TV, we have a broad misconception that heart attacks are sudden dramatic events that prompt a victim to fall to the ground clutching his or her chest.

The truth of the matter is that the signs of a heart attack are much more varied and complex than that. In fact, some heart attack symptoms can seem entirely unconnected to the function of the heart.

This is especially true in women. Women are, therefore, more likely to overlook signs that may suggest heart failure and are less likely to survive a heart attack than their male counterparts. So, it's important for all women to familiarize themselves with the more unusual heart attack symptoms and to take note of changes or patterns that ring alarm bells.

Trouble Sleeping

Disturbed Sleep Can be a Sign of a Heart AttackHeart attacks in women are unlikely to present themselves as a sharp, sudden clamping in the chest. Instead, the signs that your heart simply isn't functioning as well as it should are subtle and more insidious 

It's easier for these symptoms to creep up unnoticed, which means, by the time you realize something is wrong, it may be too late to do anything about it.

One of the more seemingly unusual (but frequent occurring) heart attack symptoms women may experience is difficulty sleeping.

Of course, disrupted sleep can also be caused by any number of other things: stress, menopause, depression or even diet. If, however, there seems to be no other cause, and especially if sleep disruption comes in conjunction with any of the other symptoms listed below, it is advisable to seek the opinion of your doctor.

Pain Between the Shoulder Blades

Pain and other physical sensations caused by a heart attack can spread to seemingly unconnected parts of the body. In women, for example, it tends to be more common to experience pain in the back; between the shoulder blades, than it is to have any sensation in the chest.

The extent of this will vary from woman to woman - with some feeling a distinctly sharp pain, while others report just a mild twinge of discomfort. Again, it is wise to take note of this, especially if other signs present themselves.

Perpetual Tiredness

Feeling exhausted is part of every busy woman's existence, isn't it? So, it's very easy to dismiss fatigue as just 'one of those things'. And, in many case of course, tiredness isn't a reason to go sprinting to your doctor. However, feelings of exhaustion, especially if there is no obvious disruption to your sleep pattern, can indicate a health problem.

Why would a heart attack cause you to feel tired? Well, it's a simple case of the heart not functioning correctly, so the body and brain are deprived of oxygen.

But, of course, tiredness alone does not necessarily suggest a heart attack, there are a number of other conditions that can cause exhaustion - and you can read more about them in the article below.

Feeling exhausted despite a good night's sleep? Perpetual tiredness is not uncommon, but it is bad for your health, your work and your relationships.

Heavy or Light Sensation in The Chest

Some Women Experience a Heaviness in The Chest When Suffering a Heart AttackUnlike the sudden agony we often (erroneously) associate with heart attacks, it's more common to experience a dull ache or heaviness (as if someone's sitting on you) around the chest. Conversely, some sufferers describe a light sensation.

These experiences are, of course, difficult to define and will vary from one person to the next. So, any unusual feelings in the chest should be taken seriously.


A heart attack can cause headaches, because the lack of heart function reduces oxygen to the brain. However, most of us experience headaches and some of us suffer from them on a fairly routine basis, so it is incredibly easy to dismiss.

If you do experience a lot of headaches, and have always done so, then it's wise to be wary of any changes in the strength or type of pain. On the other hand, if you don't have a history of headaches, a sudden onset of them is definitely something to have checked out. 

Nausea and Dizziness

This is another sign linked to lack of oxygen in the brain - a heart attack may cause a sufferer to feel lightheaded, dizzy and nauseous. 

Naturally, there are other things that may be to blame for these symptoms, but, if there is no obvious other cause, such as: low blood sugar, fatigue, morning sickness etc., then it is advisable to seek the opinion of a doctor.

Pain in The Abdomen

Yes, the pain of a heart attack can certainly travel to some strange places, but it is not uncommon for women to notice a pain or discomfort in their lower abdomen; around the area of the navel.

As with all of the symptoms mentioned above, this could be indicative of something perfectly harmless, but this is why it's so easily overlooked by heart attack victims.

Burning Sensation in The Chest

What we might be tempted to shrug off as heartburn or indigestion, might actually be a heart attack. This may go hand-in-hand with the sensations of heaviness or lightness in the chest, but it might come all alone.

Because all of the heart attack symptoms listed above are common in other conditions, or just 'ordinary' within the confines of our everyday, stressful lives, it's not surprising that they're signs women all too often overlook.

Heart attacks are a big killer among women, so it's vital that we make ourselves aware of these subtle signs, and, crucially, do something when we notice them.

Updated: 02/15/2013, WiseFool
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login
WiseFool on 02/16/2013

Thanks, 2uesday and SheilaMarie. As you both say, it's important for us to take more notice of any changes in our health and, importantly, not to simply ignore it when we feel off-color, because the sooner it's dealt with the much better chance there is of survival and a continued long, healthy life.

sheilamarie on 02/15/2013

Wisefool, this is an important reminder to us all to listen to our bodies.

You might also like

What is Fibromyalgia and What Causes Fibromyalgia

The pain and emotional agony of fibromyalgia has stricken many American women...

Why am I Always Cold?

Have you wondered this, too? I am sick and tired of the men in my life tellin...

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...