The majority of symptoms of a heart attack are the same for all genders – they include, but are not limited to:
- Chest pain or discomfort: This is the most common symptom and is often described as a feeling of pressure, tightness, or squeezing in the chest.
- Pain in other areas: The pain may radiate to the arms (usually the left arm, but can also affect the right arm), back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
- Shortness of breath: Difficulty breathing or feeling breathless, often accompanied by chest discomfort.
- Nausea, vomiting, or indigestion: Some individuals, both men and women, may experience these symptoms during a heart attack.
Any of these symptoms are a medical emergency and you should call 999 immediately and enact your onsite first aid and emergency protocols if at work.
Heart attacks have traditionally been considered a male condition, and many women experiencing tight chest pain may fail to recognise the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or have their symptoms attributed as stress or anxiety. Both women and men with chest pain should seek medical help urgently.
Unfortunately, delayed diagnosis in women having a heart attack has led to increased mortality rates. According to the British Heart Foundation, women are 50% more likely than men to receive the wrong initial diagnosis in hospital following a heart attack. As a result, the mortality rate for women suffering from a heart attack is higher than that for men.