Do Women and Men Have Significantly Different Symptoms for Heart Issues?


I have recently had emergency surgery to have a pacemaker installed due to the discovery that I had a level-3 heart block. I am okay and believe I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time but it made me start to think about women and heart issues. I wonder if you can point me to some information sources on this topic?


The most common heart attack symptom for men is chest pressure, but for women, heart attacks or heart issues in general can be much more subtle. While heart attacks and heart blocks are not the same thing, they do have some symptoms in common:

  • Pain and discomfort in one or both arms, back, jaw, or stomach
  • Shortness of breath either with or without discomfort in the chest
  • Cold sweat, nausea, and lightheadedness
  • Squeezing feeling around the upper back

Because these symptoms are common for other less severe conditions, they are often discounted. Too many doctors dismiss women’s concern regarding symptoms like these by attributing them to overexertion, stress, indigestion, or the flu. This, coupled with the media perception of heart issues (based largely on men), can result in dangerous consequences for women who may not realize they are experiencing heart issues, or whose doctors do not provide proper care.

Since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., it is important to familiarize yourself with these less commonly known symptoms. In addition, schedule regular check ups with a doctor to ensure good heart health and analyze any patterns you may notice in your body. Reducing the risk of heart disease is largely connected to maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly, since physical activity can promote heart health.

Heart issues for women can appear less physically stunning than those in men, but they are just as severe. The expectation of heart attacks we have from the media can be detrimental to women who may not realize they are experiencing a heart attack. The best way to combat this is spreading awareness and knowledge about the varying symptoms for women that can so easily go unnoticed. Even if you are unsure of the severity of a symptom, it never hurts to get it checked out!

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