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Young Women and Heart Disease - More Common Than You Think
Women with her hand on her chest
Heart attacks in women also tend to be very serious, leading to longer hospital stays and greater risks of death during hospital stays.

If you are a young woman, you probably don’t think much about having a heart attack. Heart attacks usually only happen to old men, right? Wrong. In fact, one quarter of U.S. women’s deaths are due to heart disease, and heart attacks strike women of all ages. Sixty percent more women die from heart attack and strokes than from all types of cancers combined. The symptoms of women’s heart attacks are not necessarily the same as men’s. Women often do not experience chest pain, the classic heart attack symptom. In a study of 1,000 young patients hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome (reduced blood flow to the heart, which occurs during a heart attack), 20 percent of women under the age of 55 did not experience chest pain. Heart attacks in women also tend to be very serious, leading to longer hospital stays and greater risks of death during hospital stays.

Common heart attack symptoms in women:

  • Shortness of breath, with or without chest discomfort
  • Nausea, lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Flu-like symptoms, including chills and cold sweats
  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest discomfort (angina): pain, tightness or pressure in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes or that goes away and then returns
  • Discomfort in one or both arms (especially the left arm)
  • Discomfort in your back, neck, jaw, teeth or between your shoulder blades
  • Heartburn, indigestion or a stomachache
  • Extreme fatigue


If you experience symptoms of a heart attack — even if they seem to go away — call 911 immediately! Many risk factors for heart attack are controllable, including:
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Limiting your alcohol consumption
  • Finding healthy ways to cope with stress
  • Not smoking or using tobacco products
  • Talk to your doctor about your risks for heart disease and about appropriate screening for blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol.