Health libraryBack to health library
Women and heart attacks: True or false?
Heart disease is just as much a concern for women as men. But heart attacks can have different symptoms in women. What's your heart attack IQ?
True or false: Breast cancer kills more women than heart disease.
False. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and a big risk factor for having a heart attack. Cancer—including breast cancer—is the second leading cause of death for women.
True or false: Heart attack symptoms can differ between men and women, but chest pain is the most common symptom for both.
True. The pain can feel like a heavy pressure, squeezing or fullness around your heart or in your chest. It might feel like heartburn or indigestion. Usually it lasts for more than a few minutes, but it can sometimes go away and come back. If you have chest pain or discomfort, call 911.
True or false: Women are less likely than men to survive a heart attack.
True. One reason may be that women have heart attacks at older ages than men. Women also are more likely to have less-common symptoms—such as shortness of breath; nausea and vomiting; and pain in the back, neck or jaw. They may wait to seek help or be misdiagnosed.
True or false: One heart attack symptom that women may ignore is feeling unusually tired.
True. One of the most common symptoms women having a heart attack report is feeling weak and having little energy, sort of like having the flu. The fatigue can come on suddenly or occur over several days.
True or false: If a woman thinks she's having a heart attack, the first thing she should do is take an aspirin.
False. The first thing anyone—male of female—should do is call 911. Taking aspirin may be a good follow-up action, but it's best to wait for the emergency operator's instructions.
Heart disease can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or race. But certain factors may up your risk. Talk to a doctor about your risk—and what you can do to prevent a heart attack.
Are you at risk for a heart attack
The signs of a heart attack in women
Sources: American Heart Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Office on Women's Health
- American Heart Association. "Common Questions About Heart Attack in Women." Common Questions about Heart Attack in Women | Go Red for Women.
- American Heart Association. "Symptoms of a Heart Attack in Women and Men." https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/signs-and-symptoms-in-women/symptoms-of-a-heart-attack.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Heart Disease Facts." https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Women's Health." https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/womens-health.htm.
- Office on Women's Health. "Heart Attack and Women." https://www.womenshealth.gov/heart-disease-and-stroke/heart-disease/heart-attack-and-women.
- Office on Women's Health. "Heart Attack Symptoms." https://www.womenshealth.gov/heart-disease-and-stroke/heart-disease/heart-attack-and-women/heart-attack-symptoms.