The warning signs of a female heart attack

woman hands over heart a
It's important for all women to know the signs of a heart attack.

You’re probably all familiar with the scenes where men clutch at their chest and fall to the ground when they are having a heart attack, but if that victim was a woman did you know the scene might not be so dramatic?

According to the Heart Foundation, the warning signs for a heart attack can vary from person to person, but that is even more the case for women where more than 40 per cent will not experience chest pain.

With survival and the ability to limit damage to your heart dependent on how quickly you can get treatment, it becomes all the more important that women know the warning signs of a heart attack.


Another warning sign is pain, discomfort, heaviness or uselessness in one or both arms. It might feel like numbness or tingling. The discomfort could spread from your chest to either of your arms or both arms.

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A dull ache between your shoulder blades is also a warning side, especially if the ache spreads from your chest to your back.


The most common warning sign of a heart attack is in your chest. You might feel pain, heaviness, tightness, pressure or a crushing sensation in the centre of your chest. It may be mild and make you feel generally unwell.


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If you feel aching or tightening in or around your lower jaw, this could be a sign of a heart attack. The pain could be on one side of your jaw or you might experience it on both sides. Again, the discomfort could spread from your chest to your jaw.


If you feel a general discomfort in your neck, or a choking or burning feeling in your throat it could be a sign of a heart attack. If that discomfort spreads from your chest or shoulders to your neck, you should call for help.


You might also feel a general ache, heaviness or pressure around one or both of your shoulders. The discomfort could spread from your chest to your shoulders, and again you should seek help.

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Other signs you should be aware of include feeling nauseous, feeling dizzy or light-headed, a cold sweat, and shortness of breath (where you find it difficult to breathe or take a deep breath because the feeling in your chest is tight and constricted).

Although chest pain or discomfort are common symptoms of a heart attack, some people might not experience chest pain at all, while others will experience only mild chest pain or discomfort. Others may experience one symptom, while some experience a combination.

And if you have had a heart attack before, your risk of having another one is increased but you might find that the symptoms you experience are different.

If you experience symptoms and they are severe or get worse or last for 10 minutes or more, call Triple Zero (000) for immediate help.

Did you know there were different symptoms for men and women? Have you or has someone you know had a heart attack? Share your story with us.