Heart Attacks in Women – A Missed Opportunity

February 5, 2015

Women Often Have Atypical Heart Attack Symptoms Leading to Missed Diagnosis

Heart Attack in Women

Woman Suffering Heart Attack

When women have a heart attack, the symptoms are frequently quite different from those doctors expect to see. As a result, women’s heart attacks often go undiagnosed for much longer time periods than men’s. This kind of missed diagnosis is a missed opportunity to minimize the harm done to women due to their cardiac emergencies.

The younger the woman, the less likely she is to seek medical intervention, and the less likely the hospital is to realize she is having a heart attack when she does. Women are 52% more likely than men to experience a 15 minute delay in treatment for a heart attack. In heart attacks, every moment counts. Any delay increases the amount of damage to the heart and the likelihood of death.

Learn Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Men tend to talk about heart attacks as feeling like an elephant is sitting on their chests, such is the pain. Women’s symptoms are often much more subtle. Unfortunately, according to Dr. Kathy Magliato, “the most common way women present with heart disease is dead, dead on arrival.” This is because “women tend to downplay their symptoms, and they tend to wait longer to come to the hospital, and that’s why they die at home.”

What are the Common Symptoms of Heart Attack in Women?

Women can experience chest pain, but many do not.  In fact, in a study, “43% of the 515 women studied had no “acute chest pain” at all.  Sometimes women having heart attacks experience upper body discomfort, sometimes they feel no pain at all.  Common cardiac arrest symptoms in women include:

  • Shortness of breath (57.9%)
  • Weakness (54.8%)
  • Unusual fatigue (42.9%)

Many women also simply feel restlessness and feelings of anxiety due to their body’s response to their intuition and the subtle physical symptoms they are feeling. If you wake up from sleep and find you cannot catch your breath, you might be having a heart attack and need to get checked out. Don’t delay.

If there is any Chance you are Having a Heart Attack – Get to the Hospital!

It is critical that women and their families learn the top symptoms for heart attack and respond quickly. After all, it is much better to leave the hospital with a red face because you are suffering from the flu or indigestion, then to never leave at all because you or your doctors failed to respond quickly.


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