How Heart Attacks Present Differently In Men Versus Women

You probably know that chest pain is often associated with a heart attack. In fact, it is the most common symptom of a heart attack in both men and women, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). However, that's not the only sign, especially in women. Generally speaking, women need to be aware of other symptoms — up to 30% of women who have had a heart attack experienced uncommon symptoms, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

One atypical symptom is extreme fatigue. The Cleveland Clinic explains that cardiac fatigue is much worse than how you might feel after a tough workout or long day. Some women complain of a "tiredness in the chest," while others say they are so tired that they can't perform simple activities (via WebMD).

Women have also described breaking out in a cold sweat. WebMD explains that this sweating is different from the kind of sweat you have when you are hot or exerting yourself. You should talk with your doctor if you have cold sweats and there's no other reason for them, such as the hot flashes associated with menopause.

Other symptoms to watch out for

Another unusual symptom of heart attacks in women is shortness of breath. If shortness of breath gets worse when you lie down but improves when you get up, you should take it seriously. The Cleveland Clinic reports that this type of short-windedness is more intense than normal. If you experience trouble breathing for no apparent reason, it could be a sign of a heart attack — especially if you experience any other symptoms associated with a heart attack, according to WebMD.

Pain in your arm and back is also a warning sign of a heart attack, but this pain can also radiate to your neck or jaw. These kinds of pain are tricky because they appear suddenly or increase gradually. That said, if you have any pain that becomes worse when you exert yourself but gets better when you stop, it's worth mentioning to your doctor (via Cleveland Clinic).

You may have heard that a heart attack feels like an elephant sitting on your chest. Some women reported that their heart attack felt more like an elephant sitting on their stomachs, WebMD reports. If you experience this or any of these symptoms and think you are having a heart attack, you should take an aspirin and call 911, per the AHA.