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Heart Disease Symptoms in Women

» Request a referral to a John C. Lincoln cardiac specialist.

Heart disease is any condition involving damage to the heart and surrounding blood vessels. Heart attack is just one of these heart disease conditions.

Because heart disease develops over time, heart disease symptoms for women may present themselves several months or weeks in advance of a heart attack. These precursors are called "prodromal" — or early — symptoms.

Heart disease symptoms in women include:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Pain in the upper back, jaw, or neck.
  • Unusual, unexplainable fatigue or weakness.
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and cold sweats.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Chest discomfort: A sensation of aching, tightness, or pressure. Women are more likely not to experience severe chest pain. What's more, women may not describe this discomfort as pain.
  • Indigestion.
  • Feelings of anxiety, loss of appetite and discomfort.

Because women's heart disease symptoms can be more subtle than men's — particularly when it comes to chest discomfort, rather than chest pain — many women have postponed seeing a doctor for their symptoms.

Women's Heart Disease Symptoms and Heart Attack

If you believe that you're experiencing one or more of these warning signs, see your doctor. Early heart disease symptoms often become routine right before a heart attack, and re-emerge during a heart attack. See a full list of heart attack symptoms in women.

Studies have shown that women are more likely than men to have blockages in smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart, not merely the main arteries. This condition, called small vessel heart disease, may explain why women feel less severe chest pain — as well as pain in the shoulders, upper back, neck, jaw and abdomen — during heart attack.

» Request a referral to a John C. Lincoln cardiac specialist.