Memorize these symptoms of heart attack in both men and women

February is Heart Health month, a great time to review the symptoms of heart attacks for both men and women.

More than a quarter of female deaths are the result of heart disease, which kills more than 300,000 women every year. Heart disease has been women’s number one cause of death for decades, says the World Health Organization, but the popular perception is that heart disease is a “man’s disease.” Read more of the report at

As a result, many women do not think of heart health as a priority and many with heart disease have been misdiagnosed and their treatment delayed. Some women found that healthcare providers failed to recognize their heart attack symptoms, attributing them to indigestion or other minor causes.

WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, in partnership with the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM), aims to address this gap in knowledge. Both support beginning research to develop improved healthcare practices to ultimately improve patient health outcomes and quality of care.

As part of this effort, WomenHeart and SIDM will host a conference for stakeholder groups, including women with heart disease, cardiologists, nurses and other healthcare providers, researchers, hospitals with women’s heart centers, and many others. The conference’s results will be published as a white paper afterwards, with a goal of advancing the body of knowledge about women’s heart disease.

The conference is funded by a grant from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI),

Read more about WomenHeart at and more about SIDM at

Men’s Health Network (MHN),, is a national non-profit headquartered in Washington, D.C., that has advocated for men’s health for decades. MHN offers a free 60-page pamphlet, “Heartbeat,” at

Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash

The organization recognizes that men also have a role in promoting women’s health for their mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and friends. MHN urges men and women to become familiar with the symptoms of heart attack for both sexes.

For men, symptoms of heart attack are chest pressure or pain; sudden jaw, neck, or back pain; nausea or vomiting; and shortness of breath.

Women may also experience chest pain, but that symptom isn’t always present. They may also experience pain or pressure in the lower chest or upper abdomen; fainting; indigestion; or extreme fatigue. Women may experience sudden jaw, neck, or back pain; nausea or vomiting; and shortness of breath, just as men do.

Men can be strong advocates for treatment of women who may have had a heart attack. It’s important to insist that the doctor or nurse administer an EKG test or an enzyme blood test to see if the woman they care about is having a heart attack or had one. As part of its core mission to support the health of men and their families, MHN encourages all men to help the women in their lives understand the risks to them of unrecognized and unmanaged heart disease.

There is a significant relationship between COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease, including more deaths from cardiovascular disease during the COVID-19 pandemic and serious heart conditions associated with an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.5

MHN is joining the CDC Million Hearts® initiative and health organizations across the nation in spotlighting the importance of maintaining your heart health, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out the CDC-approved public service announcement reminding Americans to guard their heart health, especially during this pandemic, at

Be an advocate, for yourself and for others.

Robin Mather

View posts by Robin Mather
Robin Mather is a third-generation journalist with more than 40 years' experience working at major daily newspapers and national magazines. A Michigan native, she now lives in Arizona

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