Women are twice as likely to die following a heart attack than men.

Heart disease remains the biggest killer in Australia, most deaths are due to heart attacks. They occur when the blood vessels supplying oxygen to your heart become blocked. This is a medical emergency and how quickly someone experiencing a heart attack presents to their local emergency department can make a big difference to how well they recover.

Every ten minutes someone is Australia has a heart attack.

Chest pain has long been associated as the main symptom suggesting that you might be having a heart attack. But not everyone experiences chest pain during a heart attack. In recent years it has been shown that the symptoms you experience during a heart attack can vary based on gender, age, and overall health profile. How a woman experiences a heart attack can be quite different to the symptoms men commonly report.


Womens Cardiovascular risk - Heart Health - South West - Cardio Vascular

Heart Attack Signs in Women

  • As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other common symptoms in women include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea/vomiting, or feeling lightheaded, palpitations; sleep disturbances and unexplained fatigue.


What does this mean for women?

The differences in how a heart attack is experienced by women can lead to delayed presentation to an emergency department, as time is muscle this has been found to be a contributing factor to explain why women can have worse outcomes than men following a heart attack. Women also associate heart disease as a man’s disease, leading to reduced rates of early preventative treatment in women.

Don’t wait to get help if you experience any of these heart attack warning signs. Although some heart attacks are sudden and intense, most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort.

What can you do to reduce your risk?

80% of heart attacks can be prevented through lifestyle choices and early identification of medical conditions that can increase your risk. If you’re over 40 (or 30 for Aboriginal and Tores Strait Islanders) speak to your GP about your potential heart disease risk.

When was your last check up?

If you are concerned about your heart health, see your GP to check your cholesterol levels and have a full heart health check.