Symptoms can appear differently in women and men.
Women and men often experience different symptoms while suffering heart attacks. Women are also more likely than men to die within one year of suffering heart attacks.
Suffocating chest pain is a classic symptom of a heart attack in men, but many women who have heart attacks don’t have this symptom. In fact, in one study, only 1 in 8 women reported experiencing chest pain during a heart attack. Even these women described the feeling as a sensation of aching, tightness, or pressure instead of pain.
During a heart attack, some women feel exhausted and have trouble catching their breath. Women experiencing heart attacks are also more likely to experience unusual symptoms like nausea and pain in the abdomen, neck, and shoulders. Some women reported experiencing sleep issues and fatigue for as many as one to two months before their heart attacks.
Although researchers are still trying to understand exactly why heart attacks affect men and women differently, there are some things we do know. For one, women’s bad cholesterol levels increase after menopause due to hormonal changes. Women are also more likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome, which is a set of health risks that raises one’s likelihood of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease. Signs of metabolic syndrome include an enlarged waist, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and glucose intolerance.