Subtle Signs Can Signal a Heart Attack in Women

Feb 2, 2018 / Cardiology

By Deepti Kumar, MD
Reliant Medical Group Cardiology

Many people think that a heart attack always begins with chest pain. And while it’s a very common sign of a heart problem, women often have warning signals of a heart attack that are not related to chest pain at all. It’s important to know these symptoms because they are often not dramatic. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t signaling that a dangerous heart attack is occurring.

Below are some important signs of a heart attack (other than pressure or pain in the chest area) that every woman should know:

Shortness of Breath/Excessive Fatigue

If you are used to doing a certain amount of activity (like climbing stairs or vacuuming) that cause no problem and then all of sudden you struggle with your breathing, it can signal that something is wrong with your heart.

Jaw, Neck and Back Pain

It may seem strange that heart problems can manifest themselves in your jaw, but it happens. Pain that radiates out to the neck and back are also danger signs of a heart attack.

Pain in the Arm

While men are known for having pain in their arms during a heart attack (particularly the left arm), women can experience pain in either arm – not just the left one. So always be aware of this symptom.


Breaking out in a cold sweat all of a sudden can be a key heart attack warning sign. Keep in mind this type of sweating is different than perspiring from exercise or being outside on a hot day.


If you feel lightheaded or are experiencing flu-like symptoms even though you don’t have the flu, it can be the warning sign of a heart attack. Sometimes these symptoms occur days or weeks before a serious cardiovascular event occurs.

Stomach Pain

If you feel stomach pain or severe abdominal pressure (like someone sitting on your stomach) it can be the sign of a heart attack. Women having a heart attack sometime mistake stomach pain for heartburn, the flu, or a stomach ulcer.

Remember that heart disease causes more deaths than any other disease for women, including cancer. That’s why it’s so important to know all the warning signs of a heart attack. Be sure to call 911 if you think you are experiencing a heart attack.

Subtle Signs Can Signal a Heart Attack in Women

About Deepti Kumar, MD

Cardiologist Dr. Deepti Kumar was inspired to become a physician by her father, who was a pediatrician. “I remember people telling me when I was a young girl about how my father had helped them and that really had an effect upon me. I could see how much people admired and respected him.”

Dr. Kumar started in medicine as an internist doing primary care before she undertook a fellowship to study cardiology. Dr. Kumar loves...

View profile View posts by this doctor

2 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Posted by Jacqueline Nichols

    I have been in Dr. Kumar’s care for about 4 years. She is a very kind and caring person. I trust her completely. Dr. Kumar and Dr. Primmer are my favorite doctors. Love you both.

    Jackie Nichols

    March 1, 2018 9:34 pm Reply
  2. Posted by Brenda Prentice

    Dr.Kumar has taken care of my mother in law for about 10 years now . She had a triple bypass when she was 89 years old while visiting her granddaughter in Colorado. She, Jessie Prentice, will be
    100 years old August, 11, 2018. Dr. Kumar has been an intelligent, kind, caring, reassuring and helpful physician the entire time.
    Thank you doctor Kumar for your service.
    Brenda Prentice

    February 27, 2018 4:03 pm Reply

Some HTML is OK


Am I eligible to use Virtual ReadyMED?

Are you or the patient 4+ years old?
Are you in Massachusetts at time of video visit?
Do you have a Reliant PCP?
Do you have access to email on the device you are using?
By continuing I’m giving Reliant permission to communicate with me via text or email to complete this visit.

Am I eligible to use Virtual ReadyMED?

Do you have a MyChart account?