Heart Attack Warning Signs: What Sets Men and Women Apart

Recognising the signs of a heart attack is paramount as it can be a matter of life or death.

Our Operating Officer Rajni experienced a heart attack in 2022 and was oblivious of her symptoms being typical of a heart attack.

We hope this blog helps you to understand the symptoms you may experience and may be different depending on whether you are a man or woman.

Understanding the symptoms can aid in early detection and potentially life-saving intervention. For both men and women, the most common symptom of a heart attack is chest pain or discomfort. 

This sensation can vary from mild to severe and may feel like pressure, tightness, squeezing, or fullness in the chest. It often lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. However, it’s important to note that not everyone experiences chest pain during a heart attack.


Symptoms in men

In men, classic symptoms also include pain or discomfort that radiates to the arms, neck, jaw, back, or stomach. They may also experience shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, light-headedness, or fainting. 

Men tend to describe the feeling as though an elephant is sitting on their chest or a tightening sensation. Conversely, women may have subtler and less recognisable symptoms. While some women experience chest pain similar to men, many have symptoms that are not directly related to chest discomfort.


Symptoms in women

Women are more likely to report nausea, vomiting, indigestion, or abdominal discomfort during a heart attack. They may also experience pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw, back, or upper abdomen. 

Additionally, women may feel unusually tired, short of breath, or dizzy, without any chest pain at all. One reason for the differences in symptoms between men and women is the variation in the way heart disease manifests. Women tend to have smaller coronary arteries, which may be affected differently by blockages or spasms.

Moreover, women are more likely to have other underlying health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension, which can influence how symptoms present. It’s essential to recognise that not everyone experiences the same symptoms during a heart attack, and some individuals may have atypical presentations. 



Factors such as age, medical history, and lifestyle habits can also impact the manifestation of symptoms. If you suspect you or someone else is having a heart attack, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention. Call emergency services without delay. Every minute counts in preserving heart muscle and preventing complications. 

Even if the symptoms are mild or seem to resolve on their own, it’s better to err on the side of caution and seek medical evaluation. Early intervention can make a significant difference in the outcome of a heart attack.

Have Any Questions?
Get in touch with our expert team at The Keyhole Heart Clinic.