Heart Attack Symptoms in Young Women

Heart Attack Symptoms in Young Women

Heart Attack Symptoms for Women in 40s

Heart attacks are more common in men than women are and that is why when we hear or see a woman showing symptoms of heart attack often dismiss it as a panic attack. Yes, it is true that it is not just the men but women too suffer from heart attacks.

According to statistics, around 4,35,000 women suffer from heart attacks annually and of this, 35,000 women are under the age of 55 and almost 15,000 under the age of 40. Today, heart attacks have become quite common and this can be attributed to the kind of lifestyle that we live. Men and women are not as active as they were a decade ago. Work stress, a sedentary lifestyle, and modernization have led to people becoming more and more confined between the walls of their home and office. With groceries being delivered to the door step, people seldom step out of home and have absolutely no form of exercise.

What many fail to realise is that eating rich and heavy food, and barely exercising, does more harm than good. Heart attacks have increased several manifolds and is affecting not just the old but also the young. Today we hear a large number of cases of heart attacks affecting individuals as young as 40 and below. It turns fatal, as immediate care is not provided in such cases.

Classic Symptoms of Heart Attack

  • Squeezing chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath

These are the symptoms that are usually seen in men. Female heart attack symptoms can be quite different. Women may experience a combination of things, which they do not associate with a heart attack. More often than not heart attack symptoms in young women are ignored and taken lightly. In many cases, doctors in small hospitals or institutions too, fail to detect the attack and dismiss it as back pain or indigestion. Chances are of surviving a heart attack is much better if treatment is provided within a few hours of having one. There is also less damage to the heart.

The heart attack symptoms in women under 40 are much more subtle and that is why it goes undetected in many cases. Some of heart attack symptoms in women include:

Heart Attact Symptoms in Young Women

Non-Chest Pain

As mentioned earlier, unlike the squeezing chest pain that men suffer when having a heart attack, female heart attack symptom of chest pain can be very mild. They can have a feeling of fullness or uncomfortable pressure, tightness or squeezing in the middle of the chest. This unusual chest discomfort is usually under the breastbone. This can persist for a few minutes or go and come back again. Chest pain is not generally considered as a heart attack symptom in women under 40, as many do not experience the chest pain.

Pain in the Arm

Arm Pain and Heart attack

There can be unusual pain or discomfort in one or both arms. The pain could also be in the upper back, shoulders, neck, jaw throat, and ears. If the pain persists, sand does not go away, then in such cases, it is better to check for an attack.

Shortness of Breath

Women can suffer from unusual shortness of breath without any chest discomfort. Having racing heart, panting, feeling breathlessness, while talking, climbing stairs, having a conversation, or doing any activity could be a sign of heart attack. They can be mistaken for panic attack or COPD, but they go off in a few minutes. Feeling short of breaths that starts slowly and lingers on should not be ignored. Sometimes shortness of breath could be like having run a marathon but in reality have not moved at all.


Breaking into a sweat for no apparent reason could be a bad sign. Clammy perspiration when one is not doing anything can be a sign of a heart attack.

Back Pain

Back Pain and Heart Attack

Backache too is a common heart attack symptom in women over 40. It could feel like a pinched nerve, pulled muscle or even an arthritis problem. Irregular pain in the upper back or lower back can be an indicator of stress to heart muscles.

Unusual Fatigue

Extreme tiredness or fatigue can be a symptom of heart attack or even a warning sign of an impending heart disease. Some women feel very tired even after getting a good sleep. Some feel very tired to do daily activities or even walk a short distance. According to a study, more than seventy percent of the women surveyed experienced extreme fatigue in the days or weeks proceeding to their heart attacks.


Feeling lightheaded or dizzy can be a female heart attack symptom. Feeling lightheaded for no obvious reason, especially if associated with any other symptom needs to be checked. Some young women can even experience unusual heart attack symptoms in women like a blackout.

Jaw Pain

Even something as non-significant as a persistent jaw pain, may be indicative of a heart attack. Often young women tend to brush this off as feeling under weather, which could in turn prove to be fatal.


Nausea or vomiting is one of the common Heart Attack Symptoms in Young Women. Waves of nausea, with stomach ache, could be a cause of worry if any of the other symptoms like dizziness, cold sweat, chest pain or even of fullness like an elephant sitting on the stomach persists. Women are twice more likely to have gastrointestinal problems than men, when having a heart attack.

Trouble Sleeping

Many women have trouble sleeping prior to a heart attack. A lot of disturbance in your sleep pattern, waking up frequently through the night and not being able to sleep again, feeling weird or having racy thoughts making it difficult to sleep can be an indicator of an impending heart attack.

It is important that you do not neglect any of the above mentioned symptoms, or brush it away. If you are particularly uneasy or restless, with symptoms of the kind we have discussed-

1. Do not wait. You need to call out for help. Dial for an ambulance and get to a hospital right away.

2. Do not drive yourself even if you feel you can make it. Have a friend or neighbor drive you down, you can always return the favor later!

3. Stay as calm and take deep low breaths until you get medical help.

Today, there is no particular age associated with a heart attack. Even a child barely a few days old, can have a heart attack. Several cases of babies under a month old, having a heart attack, has been documented. Yes, it is true that today, one hears of more heart attacks in the younger generation, than ever before. In addition, these attacks are not confined to just men, and more and more women are falling victim to heart attacks.

Heart attacks can be prevented to a large extent, by following a healthy diet and proper exercise regimen. Not ignoring the many symptoms mentioned can really help prevent fatalities and even damage to the heart. Leading a better lifestyle with a wholesome diet, exercise, no smoking, being active and periodic check ups to a greater extent can prevent heart attacks. Since heart attack symptoms in young women are much milder, it is better to be aware of all the symptoms to prevent an attack or get immediate medical care in case of one.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad