1 in 5 women deaths are from heart attacks. Their symptoms are not always obvious

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Tuesday, January 30, 2024 - 5:05am

Coverage of aging is supported in part by AARP Arizona

Heart disease is the third-leading cause of death in Arizona among adults ages 45 to 64. When it comes to symptoms of a heart attack, most of us know the big one — chest pain on the left side of the body. For women, that’s not always the case. 

Dr. I-Hui Ann Chiang is an interventional cardiologist at Banner – University Medical Center in Phoenix.

"So, one in five women deaths are from heart attacks," she said.

Banner University Medical Center
Dr. I-Hui Ann Chiang, interventional cardiologist at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix.

And sometimes women can experience chest pain when they're having a heart attack. "But a lot of women can also present with shortness of breath, dizziness, just an unwell feeling for multiple days. I have a lot of women present with passing out," Chiang said. 

They may also experience nausea and vomiting that doesn’t go away. Or  generalized fatigue. 

Chiang says all patients should be their own best advocate. And that means asking your doctor to run tests to rule out any possible heart disease. 

They also tend to experience a heart attack later in life.

"So men tend to present between ages 50 and 60. Women tend to present a little later than that, they’re usually postmenopausal."

A good amount of research has connected menopause with cardiovascular disease. Learn more by listening to our podcast, Period The End but Not Really, wherever you get your podcasts. 

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