Heart Attack Symptoms in Men and Women: Deciphering the Difference

Though men and women experience heart attacks very differently, risk factors remain the same.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, though the symptoms of these potentially deadly attacks can present starkly different between the two.

The classic symptoms that people are generally aware of, mainly seen in men, include chest pain/discomfort and pain in the shoulders, neck, or jaw.

For women, though, a heart attack may present as shortness of breath and not be accompanied by any chest pain or nausea. Dangerously, this may cause women to disregard potential symptoms, delaying a thorough diagnosis and timely treatment.

And while the symptoms of a heart attack may differ, the risk factors remain largely similar for both men and women:

  • Obesity
  • High-blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • A diet rich in saturated and trans fats

Men, overall, are generally more prone to heart attacks. Women under 45 who have not yet gone through menopause are at a statistically lower risk, but everyone, regardless of age, should still follow healthy lifestyle guidelines to keep their risk from elevating:

  • Regular exercise
  • Healthy, balanced diet
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding tobacco use
  • Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption

Regardless of if someone is a man or woman, everyone should educate themselves on the warning signs of heart attacks and the many forms of heart disease. Knowing these symptoms can save lives by allowing anyone experiencing symptoms to seek prompt medical attention.


Primary care at McLaren Health Care

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Heart attack risk factors

Learn more about heart attack risk factors and how you can address them with everyday lifestyle changes.

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