Heart attack symptoms in women - British Heart Fou...

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Heart attack symptoms in women

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
89 Replies

Hi everyone, I’m new here.

I’ve recently seen my GP for results of an ECG and echocardiogram requested after I’ve been feeling unwell for some time. For background, I have ME, Fibromyalgia and type 2 diabetes with associated high blood pressure and I have been on blood pressure medication and statins since 2008.

My tests showed early signs of ischaemic heart disease and that I have recently had a small heart attack. I ignored the symptoms because I am used to chronic pain which varies all the time. I remember an unusual pain like pressure across the back of my shoulders which frightened me a bit but went off after a while. Also pain in my left arm which I assumed was nerve pain (not unusual for me.) I did not have the classic crushing chest pain everyone expects.

My question is to women who have had a heart attack. What were your symptoms please, or did you even know? I have read that women’s symptoms are often different to men’s but my GP didn’t seem convinced,

Thanks in advance for any advice 😊

89 Replies
Deeb1764 profile image

I have not had a heart attack BUT like you have fibro with several autoimmune issues as well. The biggest issue I have as discussed with my GP is fibro attacks my shoulder blades and chest a lot as it is so the pain I had there I put down to that instead of worrying about the breathlessness and chest sharp pain.

His wording to me was simple use your GTN spray and if you use it 3 times within the time limits then call 999. If you also get the pain and in chest and going down left arm (I don’t tend to get this with the fibromyalgia) again call 999.

Hope this helps. It helped me as I am still Waiting for diagnosis had the echo and now waiting for Papworth myocardial fusion test.

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Deeb1764

Thank you, that’s helpful (although I haven’t got GTN spray as Dr doesn’t think I have angina - pretty hard to tell though as it’s usually on exertion and with ME that’s not a word in my vocabulary 😂) Like you, pain in my ribs, shoulders and neck is standard for me but I’ll look out for the arm thing from now on. It’s so easy to write everything off as symptomatic of Fibro. I wish you well with your tests X

Deeb1764 profile image
Deeb1764 in reply to Pinkdaisy65

I put so much down to fibro and RA and then the medication it was when I could just about walk 20 steps to the kitchen my hubby looked at me and said this needs to be checked!

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Deeb1764

That’s the trouble, isn’t it? I’m the same. My normal way of dealing with chronic pain is to just put on my big girl pants and get on with it! Now I’ve been told I’m not to ignore pain in case it’s another attack I find I’m focused on it to the extent that I’m feeling more pain than usual. It’s difficult to differentiate and I think we (and our doctors) have a tendency to brush everything off as being down to Fibro or arthritis X

medicinal1 profile image

Hello, it’s possible your GP hasn’t witnessed many people suffering from a heart attack first hand.

Having met and treated plenty, my experience has shown me that each presentation can be quite individual.

Having said that there are similarities.

*Pain (Generally described as a pressure, or a squeezing)

*Breathing change- difficulty or feeling of some difference in their own breathing - some again worse than others.

* Sweating - clammy ness, through to literary running down foreheads

* Nausea - mild, through to actual vomiting

*Sense of fear (Clinically known as the impending feeling of doom)

Women in my experiance have unusual locations for pain (sometimes more shoulder area) & a lot had NO pain ….but the other symptoms ‘told them something was very wrong’

My advice….be aware of what the various cardiac symptoms are and ensure you know what to do, but be prepared that you may not ‘fit a classic profile’

(Always have your mobile with you, don’t delay in calling for help & have aspirin with you handbag/pocket/ bedside table.

I hope this helps, information is power & you obviously know your body better than anybody.

If it doesn’t feel right, then defo don’t ignore it - act 👍🏼

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to medicinal1

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply, excellent advice. I will take it on board.

Manhattan1 profile image
Manhattan1 in reply to medicinal1

hi.. had all of those symptoms just before Christmas.. in the car with my hubby.. suddenly felt awful.. chest discomfort, clammy and sweaty even my hands were wet.. felt sick.. but no vomiting .. eased after 10mins.. then about 5mins later returned and lasted about a minute.. if for any readon i have to visit A&E in the future.. is there a possibility this ‘episode’ may show up on an ecg?

medicinal1 profile image
medicinal1 in reply to Manhattan1

Manhattan1 it is possible for historical cardiac events show up on current ECG’s but it depends on the severity of the event. The duration of what you described although incredibly frightening in clinical terms it was brief.

The nature of what you describe does have a lot of ‘red flag’ cardiac symptoms so I would advise you to speak to your GP firstly.

Some GP’s have the ability to perform a 12 lead in the surgery. Some don’t. Most are more happy referring you into cardiac care for their assessment (this is known as Rapid Access clinic).

I would always advise people to discuss events such as these with their GP, as even a brief episode is a warning to be heeded. I wish you well & I hope to see any update of how things went.

I’m sure a great number of people are nervous or reluctant to take this route, but knowledge is power & reflection of your experience might provide reassurance to them (& who knows help save a life) 🙂.

EU95PTM profile image

Hi there, I’m female and had a heart attack 9 months ago. My symptoms were a burning pain across chest which I thought was severe indigestion or some type of gastric issue. This was followed by shortness of breath, feeling hot and dizzy. Severe fatigue and eventually vomiting. I could still walk and talk throughout, so was not the classic case of clutching my chest and falling to the floor. I’m a non smoker, relatively young and only slightly overweight so again don’t look like the stereotypical heart attack patient. Unfortunately for me, the seriousness of my condition was not recognised by A&E staff so it took 4 hours to get an ECG and diagnosis. I have severe damage to my heart and have developed heart failure as a result. I believe much more could be done to educate people as to the non-typical presenting symptoms. I wish you well with your recovery.

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to EU95PTM

I am so sorry to hear that. I totally agree with you, there should be much more education around heart attack symptoms for women AND men, I never realised until recently that signs could be so subtle and that people were delaying getting vital treatment because they were not presenting with classic symptoms. Take care and thank you X

Hrty profile image

Not all men have "classic" heart attacks either. I didn't and chatting with others on the CCU ward none of the others had either. I've also spoken with the nurses on the ward, those at rehab and the specialist and the "hollywood" heart attack isn't as common as some might think for both women and men. I had a bit of discomforth in my forearm whilst swimming, I put it down to a muscle strain at the time, which disappeared once I stopped. Felt very sick in the changing room which didn't last long followed by loads of wind. Walked home, oops, and dozed on sofa. Didn't feel "right' in the afternoon so wife phone 111. They called out ambulance who did the checks and took me i "just in case". Roll forward a few hours and the dropped the bombshell. I was never in any real pain. As mentioned elsewhere, be aware of all the symptoms, not just the commonly reported ones, and if you don't feel right get checked. Better safe than sorry.

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Hrty

Thank you, again, good advice. I hope you are recovering ❤️‍🩹

Crochetwoman profile image

hi, I had a sudden stemi heart attack 4 years ago. Aged 54. I had had tablet controlled blood pressure for around a year. No angina etc.

I was out walking by myself on a sunny 27th December. I had just climbed a small hill without stopping and was well chuffed. Suddenly my heart went “cold” ( it was a frosty day) and I ended stuffing my gloves in my bra to warm me up 🥴. I kept walking towards home and felt that something wasn’t quite right. A cold sweat was all over me, never had that feeling before nor since. After 10 minutes of quick marching ( I was starting to panic ) I started to get a bit breathless. Another 10 mins and I got home but no one was in 🙄. I was in no pain but remembered reading something my big sister had sent about women and heart attacks and no chest pain. So I downed one aspirin ( you need to down quite a lot, I know now) and grabbed my list of medicines and went into my neighbours.

The bike dr came in 5mins, ambulance 10. I was taken to the cath lab in an hour and was stented about 2 hours since onset symptoms. I was lucky to be stented within “The Golden 2 hours”. My blood pressure was down to 40/20 on arrival. My recovery was good.

So, those were my symptoms but people vary. I had no pain, no tingling. I hope this helps. Remember that time is so important. Don’t ever worry about contacting 999.

Denva profile image
Denva in reply to Crochetwoman

so what is your ongoing treatment for heart.

Crochetwoman profile image
Crochetwoman in reply to Denva

I take Aspirin, Losartan, Ivabradine ( swapped from Bisoprolol a year ago) and I took Clopidogrel for initial 6 months. Since you have fibro too , I can only take Amitriptyline and cocodamol now.

Cardio exercise goes hand in hand with my new life style.

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Crochetwoman

Wow! I hope you are recovering well. Thank you for sharing your story with me. Thank goodness your instincts told you something was wrong X

Sewing19 profile image

Hi Pinkdaisy65. I had a heart attack 18 months ago. The only symptom I had was a pain above my left breast which lasted 30 minutes. Nothing else at all. I am a Type 1 diabetic. I had a triple bypass a week later. I had had shortness of breath, when walking up a hill, for a few weeks but no pains.

Several medical staff told me that women, especially those with diabetes, often don’t display usual symptoms when having a heart attack.

Take care

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Sewing19

That’s very interesting, thank you. I hope you are doing well now. I think I’m going to be on a mission now to raise awareness about this! X

GFFF profile image

Hi Pinkdaisy

Women have very different symptoms to men, I had a major heart attack and the only pre warning sign was bra getting a bit tight. at the time of the HA I had what I thought was indigestion and only called medical help when arm went a bit numb.

The good thing is that you now know what you are up against, work with medical advice and do what you can within the restraints of other health issues to make small lifestyle changes x

RYTHMT profile image
RYTHMT in reply to GFFF

Symptoms not differ in woman and man. Symtoms are different in every person.

Hrty profile image

Some interesting reading here from the BHF about the "differences" in symptoms between men and women. Whilst more research is apparently needed it does suggest there are some misconceptions about the apparent difference in symptoms.



NannyPat1 profile image

I had my HA 18 months ago. No crushing pain, sweating or clamminess, just an unusual pain radiating from both sides of chest on exercise. Carried on for 6 days, still fine unless exercising but worse each day . Was on holiday but had phone call with GP who sent me to nearest A and E and bingo, it was a HA and needed 3 stents in LAD!

Bingofox007 profile image

hi there. Like you I had ischaemic changes snd ‘old’ anterior infraction on an ECG. I was admitted from GP surgery, he was concerned as I’d had dull ache in chest and shoulder and inverted T waves. I too have aches snd pains daily with OA and inflammation so didn’t really think much of it. I’d gone to surgery to discuss episode of PAF I’d had for few hours the night before. Hosp ECG showed nothing acute but told I had had a heart attack but wasn’t having one that day. Due to pain I take diclofenac, only nsaid that I tolerate……or do I. I couldn’t take blood thinners for PAF due to taking this but last week I had 4 days of this ache again, arm hurt but not unusual but then I started to feel dizzy. I work in a GP surgery so had an ECG done by one of the girls there. Sinus arrhythmias, seen by dr at work, she was happy not an MI but see own dr. I didn’t but decided to stop the diclofenac as it’s detrimental effect on heart well documented. The chest pain stopped, I’ve increased cocodamol, not ideal but OA pain tolerable and changed to anti inflammatory/Mediterranean diet and started the edoxaban I had been prescribed previously but not taken. I’ll ring my GP today to get it put on repeat meds and update him snd advise him I’m following his advice. I’m heeding the advice as I’ve had so many warning signs and can only be in denial for so long. I wish you well. Bit long winded reply, sorry lol🦊xx

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Bingofox007

Thank you Bingofox, I think I may have found my long lost twin 😂 Please take care of yourself and thank you for sharing your story, which sounds eerily similar to mine X

Swalecliffe88 profile image

Hello Pinkdaisy. I had a GP like that too. Yes you are perfectly right. It’s a worrying thing when GPs do not know such basics as that. But don’t get me started on that one 😡. However yes heart attacks in women normally present as a moderate to severe pain across the back between the shoulder blades. Please insist you are referred to a cardiologist and sooner than later. I had the exact same scenario as you and when seen by specialist was told I needed triple bypass. my ischemia was by then more advanced than yours sounds, but don’t leave it as long as I did.

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Swalecliffe88

Thank you, I will push for that. I think if I wait for them to “maybe “ contact me, I could be in for a long wait X

Swalecliffe88 profile image
Swalecliffe88 in reply to Pinkdaisy65

exactly. And you’ll be surprised the specialist will probably be surprised that you weren’t referred before. The hold up is often at a lower level !!

Fynndog profile image

you are right , womens symptoms can vary greatly. I had an achey arm which came and went two days before having indigestion which was mild at start , this also came and went. As the day wore on it got worse. At eight o’clock even I myself realised something more serious was happening. Ambulance 3 stents. Severe Heart Attack.

I did not recognise my symptoms as being serious. I had left things far too late. The ambulance did not arrive until an hour later ( that seems quick by todays standards) but it caused heart damage and heart failure.

Varying symptoms should be publicised more clearly.

So you would have been right not to overlook the achey arm the back and shoulder pain. These are very relevant H Event symptoms.

All the very best to you dear. You will find all the help you need here . Xxx

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Fynndog

Thank you Fynndog. You’re right, this is such a valuable source of information and lived experience and everyone is so kind and helpful. All these answers have spurred me on to make some calls instead of sitting back and waiting for the next one. All the best to you, take care X

Fynndog profile image
Fynndog in reply to Pinkdaisy65

I sat there for two weeks with arm ache and all the hearties got in to me and I finally went to A@E I got checked out. They found nothing so why the arm ache I don’t still know. However it has eased my mind and that’s a godsend.

Good luckxxx

scentedgardener profile image

It is very difficult when you live with chronic pain to work out what is causing what. You could try keeping a diary of your symptoms to see if a pattern is repeated.You can go to a pharmacy and speak to a pharmacist about purchasing a GTN spray over the counter. I was prescribed them but am quite confused as they stressed to use it when I got chest pain, and I don't get chest pain as such.

Mountwood profile image

There is a very good book "A Woman's Heart" by Dr, Angela Maas which explains all the differences there can be between a male and a female heart attack. Well worth reading.

I had a heart attack 2 weeks ago and my symptoms did not present as a heart attack. My symptoms were sever pains in both wrist, elbows and shoulder joints which came in waves and felt like frost burn. Went to A and E, nothing showed up in bloods or ECG initially, thankfully when the ECG did I was transferred to CAT lab, unfortunately that took 2 hours so now have moderate heart damage. I had one stent fitted. They don't know why it happened as rest of heart healthy, normal cholesterol levels and I'm 46. I didn't present with any of the key heart attack symptoms.

Ewloe profile image

More women die than men when having a heart attack. It’s a known statistic. It’s because the symptoms are often different to men’s. The health service has traditionally been primed to act on the symptoms men present with. In the past women’s symptoms were often dismissed as gastric or emotional. Things are improving but there’s a way to go yet. And it’s not just in the uk.

As a very fit woman of 59 with no family history, no risk factors exercised 4/5 times a week or any other comorbidities I had an out of the blue massive STEMI. ( after being at the gym in the morning).

My symptoms were breathless, aching everywhere, nausea, freezing cold ( i was so cold it was painful). And generally feeling really really unwell.

I was on my own in the hot so phoned my daughter who lived close by ( didn’t phone ambulance as kept thinking it’ll pass). She took 1 look at me and phoned 999. Ambulance car came and luckily did an ecg which showed classic changes of a stemi. They faxed it to a cardiac Center not far away then got me an ambulance there to the cath lab. I arrested as they pushed me through the door. Luckily I’m still here. But now with an ejection fraction of 46% and 2 heart arrhythmia’s ( needed a cardio version 3 months after HA as was in AFib). 18 months on i no longer work but still exercise a lot and enjoy life

Anyway sorry about waffle we all have our stories on here. My daughter told me about a book. A Woman’s Heart, by Angela Mass. which is an interesting read. But there’s other books out there now as well that document the different symptoms. X

Hephzibar profile image

Following this with interest as I visited A&E three weeks ago with atypical chest and shoulder pain. No crushing pain, sweating etc just weird tingling across upper chest, under arm and left arm discomfort. I have a history of palpitations, tachycardia and SVT as well as long term upper back issues!! And throw in anxiety and tension headaches! Processed quickly - SVT on ECG, pulse and BP up, but bloods came back fine!

Second ECG came back as normal sinus rhythm and was allowed home with a prescription for Bisoprolol which has lowered my heart rate, but still get the occasional ectopics. Had my gall bladder out in Nov and since then I am less aware or getting fewer ectopics!! Still getting strange shoulder/chest discomfort on occasions, but have had a R test and have an appt with cardiology this afternoon for the results.

I have absolutely no idea what to expect - is it cardiac, or chest/back or breast issues??

ula1run profile image
ula1run in reply to Hephzibar

Hi, I had very similar symptoms, prescribed the lowest dose of Bisoprolol. The cardiologist discharged me and asked me to come back if the symptoms came back. I haven't so far - maybe his reassurance was enough not to be so scared, taking away a lot of anxiety?

Hephzibar profile image
Hephzibar in reply to ula1run

That’s what I am hoping 🤞, but today’s appt was cancelled and they are hoping that todays’s clinic can be fitted in to Friday’s clinic! Getting very fed up with the vague symptoms that flit around and come and go with no real pattern to it all.

ula1run profile image
ula1run in reply to Hephzibar

Good luck! My symptoms have been labelled idiopathic (nobody seems to know where they come from). There's no obvious link to anything I do/don't do.

ula1run profile image

Hi, I can recommend an excellent book by a Dutch cardiologist Angela Maas - 'A Woman's Heart' in which she describes how diiferent can the symptoms of a cardiovascular disease be in men and women. Quite an eye opener.

Sillyfroggy profile image

my heart attack wasn’t ‘crushing chest pain’ I had on and off achiness around my throat, felt like my glands were up! It gradually came on more and more over 4 days and then the evening of the fourth day it just didn’t go off and I felt generally unwell. 2 swift loo visits and weird heaviness in my arms, turned out to be STEMI RCA. Women definitely feel it differently and your diabetes may mask some of the pain too. So called ‘silent’ heart attacks.

Beccamoptop profile image

I was on holiday when I got my first sign, which was a tightening across my chest, like a seatbelt, whilst out walking. It was very fleeting and I quickly forgot it. During the holiday I was quite out of sorts though, quite fatigued but still was walking short walks with no great ill effects apart from having to take it a little slower.

Got home without any further mishaps however, after I had got the pets home from the boarding kennels and was doing the big holiday wash, I started to feel increasingly breathless. At first I was wondering if it was the dogs, was I, after being away from them for a week, allergic to them! I put it down to my asthma and took some puffs of my inhaler, and again and again. I was clammy and in a cold sweat....well it was a hot day and was experiencing dull pain in my jaw and neck. Eventually, starting to panic (or, in hindsight, was it the impending doom thing) decided to call GP in order to use a nebuliser or such for asthma, went down, they did ECG, gave me a GTN to puff and then I was blue lighted to hospital. After GTN though I didn't feel too bad and couldn't understand why they wouldn't let me take my car home first before going to a& e!

Anyway, further tests confirmed nstemi and I had 2 stents quickly fitted and another valve stretched. Thankfully there was no damage but I have been left with breathlessness and an intolerance to exercise which they haven't been able to address.

I wonder if women sometimes just fight through any symptoms at first or, as others have said, symptoms are hidden by other conditions.

Milkfairy profile image
MilkfairyHeart Star

Prof Angela Maas' book Woman's Heart is an excellent read.

She also highlights how heart disease presents differently in women. In particular women are more likely to live with non obstructive coronary artery disease NOCAD. Microvascular and vasospastic angina are types of NOCAD and seem to affect women more than men.

Another interesting writer is Carolyn Thomas who writes a blog

Heart Sisters in which she discusses how the experiences of women is different


When I was admitted to hospital over 10 years ago I was told despite having crushing central chest pain that radiated down my left arm, up into my jaw, through into my left upper back, ECG changes, small troponin blood level rise, I was having a panic attack not a heart attack.

I was told incorrectly that I couldn't have a heart attack or angina because my coronary arteries are unobstructed.

I live with vasospastic angina which causes transient constrictions of my coronary arteries leading to a lack of blood supply to my heart. I am at higher risk of experiencing a heart attack, stroke, heart failure and major adverse cardiac events.

I wonder because women may have a variety of different symptoms which they may use non medical words to describe that these important symptoms are overlooked.

During one admission, I told several Cardiologists that when I had a severe episode of angina that my bra feels too tight and it feels as though the air is being squeezed out of my lungs so I can't take a breathe in.

One put in my notes I had breathlessness the other chest pressure.

Heart Research UK is running a Her Disease Campaign to raise awareness about how heart disease effects women.


The Lancet Women's and Cardiovascular Disease Commission Report published in May 2021 is also raising the important issue that women are needlessly dying from heart disease. Prof Angela Maas was involved in the production of the report.

" Despite being responsible for causing 35% of deaths in women each year, cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women remains understudied, under-recognised, under-diagnosed, and under-treated, with women under-represented in clinical trials."


Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Milkfairy

Thank you so much for those links, very valuable information. I wish you all the best, take care X

Milkfairy profile image
MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Pinkdaisy65

You might find this episode of Inside Health on Radio 4, interesting. Women and Heart attacks are discussed.

I have met one of the speakers, the wonderful Prof Vijay Kunadian, she is one of the few female, Professors of Interventional Cardiology, in the UK.

A great patient story too!


Outandabout profile image

Yes I'm sure I had some sort of episode about a year ago. Still waiting for tests which seem they are never going to come. It was more like a really bad case of acid reflux with chest pain and some arm numbness but since I live alone and have no family to take up the reins it seemed simpler to just carry on. It's a worry though, especially since reading this.

Hrty profile image

From what I've been reading your final paragraph is very resonant. Women do seem to often delay seeking help which, sadly, can lead to many not surviving. For both men and women it does seem more awareness is needed, both by the public and health services, with regard to the less well know symptoms.

In my case I was stuck in the ambulance for around 30 mins before being able to go into the hospital. Once inside I was placed in something called a Halo ward, basically a chair with ambulance crew "keeping and eye on us" before being taken into A&E. Initially taken to the RAT Bay where bloods, another ECG, BP and Oxygen checked. After that stuck back in A&E for several hours without any further "treatment" other than BP, Oxygen and Temperature "checks". My wife eventually checked what was happening as I was getting fidgety and all for going home. She was told there was "a problem" with my bloods and after about 4 hours in A&E, plus the initial assessment by the paramedics, who arrived in about 10 mins, stuck outside the hospital and the wait in the Halo and initial assessment (just over 6 hours in total) the Dr dropped the bombshell whilst a second blood test was taken and scan done. At that point I was given a load of tablets, made to chew an aspirin, given that horrible injection in the stomach and morphine for pain I didn't really have. At that point a xray was done. Then wheeled into an A&E bay to be monitored whilst awaiting a bed in CCU.

Everyone who dealt with me was lovely but incredibly stretched which may explain why it took quite a while before anyone realised what was actually going on. I don't suppose my lack of pain, the fact I was breathing OK and that I didn't apparently "look ill" helped either.

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Hrty

Oh my goodness, that’s appalling! I sincerely hope you are recovering well X

Hrty profile image
Hrty in reply to Pinkdaisy65

I'm doing ok thanks although myhead is taku g longer to "heal" and come to terms with what happened.I've had really good aftercare and am in regular contact with the rehab team which has been a big help.

The only problems have been in A&E. Ours seems quite small for such a large town and the staff are really struggling to cope. Not helped by the reported difficulties in seeing a GP round here. On one of my trips back to A&E to be checked out one nurse was in tears trying to cope with it all. My experience has varied from whipped in and checked out almost immediately to sat on a chair for hours on end waiting for something to happen or blood results to come back. The latter isn't great when you are worrying whether it's happening again.

junik53 profile image

Hi I had a heart attack a few years ago, like you I get a lot of pain in my arms from Fybro and arthritis,but this particular pain was same as usual but did not respond to painkillers, I had it in BOTH my arms radiating from top of arms down to my hands, but then I started a cold sweat and husband said I turned grey, the pain by this time was excruciating, it made me cry, ambulance called,paramedics turned up in about 15 minutes,they did their tests and said I was having heart attack, blue lighted to hospital and had angioplasty with one stent.All has been well ever since ,but problems with arm pains sent me to urgent care several times since but was always attributed to Arthritis. It is definitely a problem to distinguish between the two especially straight after a heart attack, with the fear of having another.

NWGal1 profile image

I had a heart attack in June 2021 which I knew nothing about! I kept getting aching under each armpit initially when walking but latterly when in bed, so much so that the aching would wake me up. One night it was particularly severe and we called an ambulance. The paramedics didn’t think it was a heart attack and my ecg was fine so they asked if we could make our own way to the hospital for blood tests - these showed raised troponin levels so I was admitted and eventually diagnosed as having had a heart attack. I also had an angiogram and a stent as a result of that.

From the minute I got out of bed to await the ambulance, I never felt so much as even a twinge under my arms! I’m so glad that I went to hospital though as the artery that was stented was 70% blocked.

Hope that’s helpful!

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to NWGal1

Yes, it is. Thank you and I hope you’re ok now X

NWGal1 profile image
NWGal1 in reply to Pinkdaisy65

I’m very well thanks. 😊 Best wishes to you and thanks for asking about women’s heart experiences.

Tos92 profile image

I’m a 30 year old female and had an an NSTEMI in January 2022 which was triggered after having a really bad coronary spasm (29 at the time). My symptoms were a severe squeezing pain in the middle of my chest which went all the way up into my jaw, my shoulder blades and my right arm. I also vomited and had abdominal pain with it, including sweating. My symptoms lasted anywhere between 20-30 mins before they started to subside very gradually. I was on holiday at the time and did not know I had a cardiac condition. I have read that women may feel pain on the right side in comparison to men who usually feel it on the left side. Hope this helps :)

Milkfairy profile image
MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Tos92

Hello Tos92 I live with vasospastic angina too.

I hope you are receiving good follow up treatment and are under the care of a Cardiologist.

Some Cardiologists do not appreciate the seriousness of myocardial Infarction non obstructive coronary arteries MINOCA.

It's important for the underlying cause of your MINOCA to be appropriately treated.

Some patients also have difficulty accessing cardiac rehab if they have had a MINOCA

You may find this information on the BHF website helpful.


Tos92 profile image
Tos92 in reply to Milkfairy

Hi Milkfairy.

Thanks for your response.

It has been a nightmare finding a cardiologist to get me on the correct treatment for prinzmetal/vasopastic angina. There is a lack of knowledge it seems between cardiologists when it comes to vasospasm which is really frustrating. I have a myocardial bridge as well which I think is the root cause of the spasms however, MBs are considered benign by medical professionals as well which doesn’t help.

Currently undergoing private healthcare as I’ve not had much luck on the NHS which is costing a lot however, I continue to remain symptomatic even after the NSTEMI which we all hoped was a one off event. I seem to have become tolerant to the medications I’m on, so yet to find a cardiologist that can put me on a more effective treatment plan.

Thank you for sharing the link :)

Milkfairy profile image
MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Tos92

My vasospastic angina was confirmed nearly a decade ago by an angiogram with acetylcholine as part of research.

I have been fortunate to have access to some of the world leading experts and researchers into non obstructive coronary artery disease NOCAD.

My present Cardiologist is very supportive and will consult a tertiary specialist as required.

There's a trial taking place which is using functional angiograms to diagnose microvascular and vasospastic angina.

More centres are beginning to get involved in this research

Perhaps make contact with the Principal Investigator of the iCorMicA trial and ask if there is a centre close to you involved in the study.


I hope you are able to get the support you need.

I am aware of one Cardiologist in London who is knowledgeable about myocardial bridges.

Tos92 profile image
Tos92 in reply to Milkfairy

Yes, I have heard of vasospastic angina being confirmed through the adoption of acethylcholine. It’s a shame it is not widely used during angiograms in the U.K. in suspected vasospasm patients.

I have looked at where the clinical trials are being held and unfortunately, Glasgow and Scotland are a tad too far from me.

I have also heard of a cardiologist specialist in London that deals with myocardial bridges.

Milkfairy profile image
MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Tos92

The iCorMicA study is also taking place in several hospitals in London.

The forum guidelines ask for us not to name individual doctors by name or hospital teams.

I'll message you the centres

Tos92 profile image
Tos92 in reply to Milkfairy

I will try to make contact with the Principal Investigator for the study - thank you.

Wolf22 profile image

Hi PinkdaisyI had a heat attack 3 years ago aged 51.Id had pain coming from my stomach up my neck to my jaw for about a year and due to stress going on ignored it then a year later for approx 4 days had really irritating shoulder blade like someone was digging their finger in.Day three nearly passed out and day four was out and pain was terrible so got hubby to take me to ambulance station who said we don't think it's a heart attack as ecg was fine.They took me to hospital and was told I'd had a heart attack.Certainly not like heart attacks in films.You look after yourself .

BSA20 profile image

I had not had any previous signs of heart problems but one day last September I had a pain between the shoulder blades which radiated to both sides. It felt like a muscle spasm which got worse and then I was sick. My husband rang 111 for advice and they asked four questions relating to a heart attack but I did not have the classic symptoms. They said they would send an ambulance but I was classed as category 3 and there would be a 5 hour wait. After 1 hour my husband rang 999 and he had to phone 999 three times before a call operator recognised my symptoms as a heart attack. He was advised to leave me and find the nearest defibrillator in case he needed to use it before the ambulance could get to me, The paramedics didn't recognise my symptoms and said I had a trapped nerve, neither of them knew how to read an ecg. I was taken to my local hospital who wanted to transfer me to a specialist unit but they kept refusing me as they said it was to late for a test or treatment. Hence no stents. On discharge was given a bag of medications and no advice whatsoever. There was no communication from any doctors or nurses hence my husband was not kept informed in any way as to what was wrong with me. Instead they kept pumping me full of painkillers and I have 48 hours missing from my memory.

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to BSA20

That is absolutely horrifying? What happened next? Did you get proper treatment? X

Qualipop profile image

I had a heart attack in 2018. I had 3 days of really really bad indigestion; belching hard and non stop and pain in the middle of my upper back. I was eating Rennies like sweets. On day 3 I got a mild tingling down my left arm and up my neck. At that point I rang 999. The paramedics saw something on the ECG that "Might" be a heart attack so took me to A&E. I was triaged by a nurse who decided it was nothing much and left me on a trolley alone in a corridor for 5 hours because I wasn't grey, sweating or clutching my chest. I'm disabled and without my wheelchair so I couldn't get to the loo or even call for help as the corridor door locked when it swung shut. IT was only when the day staff came in that I was able to get help and was seen. Once I'd had the troponin test I was admitted immediately (Well, when a bed came free) and after that my treatment was superb. I had an angiogram and 2 stents first thing next morning.

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Qualipop

H, my goodness. Poor you. Do you have any after effects from delayed treatment? X

Qualipop profile image
Qualipop in reply to Pinkdaisy65

It was upsetting at the time but I was lucky that very little damage was done and literally all I take now is one aspirin and one statin a day. It was only the actions of A&E that were bad. The angiogram showed 2 more blockages at 65% but they didn't need stents. I wish there was a non invasive way to find out how those are doing. I posted to highlight just how badly trained a lot of nurses are in recognising a heart attack in women when we don't present with the obvious symptoms.

fishonabike profile image

I have not had a heart attack (MI) but i did have an episode of Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy which shows such similar symptoms that the initial diagnosis in emergency departments is usually MI, when it isn't misdiagnosed (and that's another story!) - since then i have become much bettter informed on the subject of women's heart health

I also have ME, but am fortunate in not experiencing the sort of pain that you and others have

The issue of women's symptoms is a complex one, here's a taste -

the classic heart-clutching media image is not the most common experience in men or women, but it's a handy one for portraying a heart attack (which in itself is a vague term)

there are other conditions which cause the same symptoms as a "heart attack" but which are not caused by blocked or arteries e.g. Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), Coronary Artery Spasm and other microvascular conditions, MI with No Obstructed Arteries (MINOCA) and Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy - these occur more often in women than in men , but doctors are not as aware of them

it used to be said that women's heart attack symptoms were "atypical" because they did not fit the standard symptoms - on closer examination it becomes clear that the standard symptom list was based on data gathered largely from men - heart attack symptoms are very variable in type and strength - lots of people have heart attacks without knowing, some find out by chance when tests for some other reason show the indications or when they have a noticeable one and seek treatment - sadly the myth persists even in emergency departments

...and i haven't even mentioned the socio-cultural aspects.....!

We have a long way to in getting accurate and useful health information to the people who need it - other replies have suggested books and links so i will throw in Heart Sisters (myheartsisters.org/) - it is no longer updated but contains a wealth of articles about all sorts of aspects of women's heart health

do get informed and spread the word to all the women you know, it could save a woman's life

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to fishonabike

Thank you so much X

Crofton23 profile image

hi there! I had a heart arrack in 2020, I felt really well until I walked up the stairs when I reached the top step I had mild chest pain and I was breathless.. Gp said call 999. Taken to Hospital and a stent was fitted. 18 months later terrible crushing pain in chest and neck pain, feeling sick and bile in throat and sweating. Called ambulance, blue lighted and sirens going. Straight up to Cath Lab and 3 stents fitted.

This shows how symptoms can vary so much. The hospital made me promise to call ambulance at the first signs of chest pain. I hope this story helps you.

Manhattan1 profile image

hi😊… had to go to A&E last February by ambulance.. had been suffering really painful keft arm pain during the night which subsided but came back the following day.. called 111 in the evening and they sent an ambulance.. ecg and bloods done.. doc said ‘we don’t think you’re having a ‘full blown HA’.. troponin was 12.. i should’ve asked him if i was having a ‘half blown HA’😂.. was released the following morning none the wiser… couple of years ago after being admitted with chest pain.. another A&E doc was looking at previous ECG’s and said you’ve had a HA. i told her i’d never been advised of that and she replied ‘oh well if you’ve never been told then you’ve not had one’!… it was showing something regarding t waves and q waves..

a couple of weeks ago i was in the car with my hubby when i suddenly felt unwell chest discomfort.. feeling sick and cold clammy and sweating.. seemed to disappear after sbout 5 mins but came back a few mins later and then went away.. if i ever end up in A&E again i’ll mention it a.. will be interesting if anything shows up on an ecg

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Manhattan1

I’m just learning about all this, but I really don’t think you should wait to see if you end up in A&E again! I think you should see your GP and push for a cardio referral because that really doesn’t sound right. Please take care X

Manhattan1 profile image
Manhattan1 in reply to Pinkdaisy65

thanks for reply😊up until December 2020 had been under cardiologist and taking anti anginal meds.. had CT angiogram in May 2020 that showed mild furring of left snterior descending artery. was advised by lovely female cardiologist to continue with meds as i had CAD and angina.. an invasive angiogram in Dec 2020 again showed mild furring of artery.. but received phone from another cardiologist to stop angina meds as not serious enough to cause angina😂.,the male cardiologist i first saw in 2018 told me he believed i was suffering from microvascular angina.. when i mentioned this to him when he told me to stop angina meds.. he asked if they had tested for MVA during invasive angiogram.. ge said mmmm they didn’t.. and that was that😂.. told me to keep taking aspirin and statin.. i said so if i get chest pain it won’t be heart related?.,, he said.. ohhh no.. go to A&E.. anyone can have a HA! now i feel like a hypochondriac if i ever need to go there in the future because my artery isn’t blocked enough to cause a HA

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Manhattan1

I actually don’t know what to say 😱What on earth are you supposed to do with that? Short of turning up in A&E with every single little twinge until they actually listen to you X

Milkfairy profile image
MilkfairyHeart Star in reply to Pinkdaisy65

Pinkdaisy65 sadly many patients with microvascular and vasospastic angina get the brush off. Maybe because most people living with these types of non obstructive coronary artery disease NOCAD are women?

Cardiologists are only just beginning to look beyond the blockages.

MumaLines profile image

I had a pain in between my shoulders radiating the size of a golf ball. Thought it was indigestion until the pain became unbearable, feeling like someone's fist was pushing through my back to my chest. I then had a trickling feeling running down my Jaw. I remembered watching a TV programme and that women sometimes get this with a heart attack. I called 999, they arrived, ECG was normal except for a big fuzzy line. The paramedic asked if I was laying on an electric blanket, I was not. I told the paramedic I was having a heart attack as my family members had died so young of hereditary heart disease. Another ambulance crew quickly arrived and their ECG showed I was still having a heart attack. I was taken to a specialist hospital where a team were waiting. Had an angiogram, showing a blockage. As I am allergic to Aspirin I could not be stented. The surgeons needed to do a Quadruple Bypass. They stabilised me, monitored me every minuet, they truly were fantastic and saved my life with the Bypass.

When you are having a heart attack, you kind of tell yourself, NO IT CAN'T BE A HEART ATTACK. Your brain goes into panic and denial. I remember saying to the wonderful paramedics "please don't let me die". I think those words are very common whilst having a heart attack.

I have been taught by the medical staff, if you have any funny feelings, pains in between your shoulders then go to A&E so that they can do an ECG and run your bloods.

If you have abnormal symptoms they will soon know from your bloods. Better to be Safe than Sorry and A&E is there for hearties like us.

I hope this is of help to you and others.

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to MumaLines

Thank you, wise words. I’m very glad they caught you in time X

Petal7 profile image

Hi, I'm also new to the site. On December 20th, 2022 my symptoms were a sudden strange feeling in my neck on left side, I went dizzy and fell to the floor injuring my foot. I was on holiday in Galway and went to A&E with foot injury, - x-ray showed just sprained. They did lots of tests re dizziness, ECG, bloods, stand/sit test, etc. They gave me all the test print-outs in a brown envelope and said to see GP on return to UK. They didn't mention a heart attack so I carried on my holiday as usual! On return home in January I dropped hospital notes into Surgery and I then got a phone call to go in and had an urgent ECG that day which confirmed the minor heart attack, My GP was surprised the Irish hospital hadn't referred me to Cardiology as their ecg showed the heart attack. I'm now on Bisoprolol, lisinopril, asprin and have a GT mouth spray. The tablets are making me feel lightheaded and unsteady when walking.

I did not have the usual symptoms of chest and arm pain, just the strange feeling in my neck and the dizziness. I am age 76, slim build and don't have any other health conditions. It's all been very scary. (Oh, and the Irish Hospital have sent me a bill for 100 Euros because they wouldn't accept my GHIC card!!)

It has been very helpful finding this chat group to get more information.

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Petal7

It really is very helpful hearing about other people’s experiences. I hope you’re OK, it’s scary that people can know you’ve had a heart attack and just send you off on your merry way! Like you, I’m grateful for this group 😊

XmasEve24 profile image

Hello - you’ve had lots of excellent advice on here but here’s my story. Never had a heart attack but had very high cholesterol for a awhile. Started getting unusual discomfort between my shoulder blades. Called them my funny turns. They got increasingly worse over a couple of years until I finally went to the surgery with a particularly uncomfortable attack. My GP sent me straight to hospital- no heart attack but they sent me out with various meds +GTN spray and awaiting angiogram appointment at Papworth. 3 months later I attend angiogram appointment resulting in me having emergency double by pass surgery the next day at age 61(this was 7 years ago) with 100% and 70% blockages to my two main arteries. The consultant told my husband I was about to have a heart attack from which I would not recover aka The Widowmaker. Angela Maas book is excellent and so many things she talks about resonate with me. As referenced on previous replies to your post. This site is excellent for both support and knowledge. Knowledge is also power when you go in to discuss your concerns with the medics. Good luck with it all🙂

Rambling9 profile image

Hi Pinkdaisy 65 - I had a heart attack nearly 4 years ago. I experienced some symptoms before (tiredness upper arms feeling absolutely wasted) but had no idea that they were heart related (neither did my GP) I had never smoked, was only slightly overweight with no family history of heart disease,

I awoke just after midnight feeling nauseous and generally unwell with dull pain between my shoulder blades and then a tight tight band of pain round both upper arms (I described it as blood pressure bands being pulled really tight) By that time I was wide awake! I was confused re what it was and actually started to google the symptoms then decided that I should phone 111 (I live alone) They were very much on the ball and sent an ambulance plus sent me downstairs to take a couple of aspirin.

The paramedics said I didn't look like I'd had a heart attack but when they did an ECG they could see that I had. I was blue lighted to the nearest Cardio catheter suite and the diagnosis was confirmed by an echo cardiogram. Their crash team turned out and I acquired three stents in total (two added at a later date)

So yes, symptoms in real women can be very different to that depicted in the movies. I was immensely grateful to all those who helped - especially 111 for being so speedy and recognising it for what it was. My heart isn't 100% now - ej 45% but I live a normal life and keep taking the meds. One of the hospital nurses asked me about it all and when I replied adding " I think I've been lucky" she said " I think you've been bl***y lucky"

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to Rambling9

You certainly were. Stay lucky 🍀 X

AJ16 profile image

I had an ME diagnosis for 10 years with an ‘irregular heartbeat’ and slow bpm. I had no medication and because I was working full time as a teacher and ‘coping’ no support for the ME either.

I then had an ‘episode’ which I clicked my neck but then felt peculiar so went to A and E. I then jumped through all the hoops as they thought it was a stroke... all I wanted them to do was ‘uncrick’ my neck!

However, the episode remains as an unexplained, no evidence TIA but it did mean I was fast tracked to see a cardiologist who specialised in the electrics of the heart. I had a pacemaker fitted last March. The cardiologist promised to make me a new woman and he has. I am ‘cured’ of ME. No aches, pains, exhaustion or brain fog. That man is my hero.

I guess what I am saying is everyone is different and everyone’s symptoms may differ. I know ME/ CFS is not curable but as a woman my ‘ episode’ was not a stroke or a heart attack according to the tests but it could have been.

Ask lots of questions and don’t presume that your symptoms are ME. They maybe but then again they could be something else.

Good luck moving forward.

Pinkdaisy65 profile image
Pinkdaisy65 in reply to AJ16

That’s a very good point. Thank you 😊

Brokenheart19 profile image

Hi Pinkdaisy65 like a lot of your replies I’m female and HA survivor. Two points that I would like to share - women less likely to call ambulance - not wanting to put anyone ‘out’. (From a senior paramedic) Second, a book my daughter brought me after my HA recommended after a podcast about women’s heart health. “Can You Die of a Broken Heart?” By a cardiothoracic surgeon (Australian) Nikki Stamp. Covers so many things in a very straightforward way. Worth a read and useful to refer to. Always remember life is for the living and keep doing what the doctor ordered x

12345pink profile image

I had a heart attack 4 1/2 hrs ago woke up 8am with a pain at top of my back in the middle. I couldn’t lie down so sat on edge of bed but then I got pain in my mouth. I had spoken to my brother who had had a heart attack previously to this and he told me he had pain around his mouth. Fortunately I had bee on IPad 2 weeks previous and there was a notification saying if you were by yrself what to do so I thought I was going to do this which I did and the pain went off. It was a Sunday and decided I would go to Walkman centre and see what they thought. The nurse was very good and nice and told me that I had had a heart attack, I said ok I will go to Drs tomorrow and nurse said ambulance is on the way. They were very good one drove and other one sat in back and he said I had AF which I had never heard of before.

I had stent put in and was out withinin 4 days then home I was given an appointment to see a nurse she sent me for exercises course and to this day I have done them. It lasted 6 weeks and you had option to carry on doing the exercises at the place. Very one was excellent and very helpful. I was also given a CD for relaxation which was very good and I do those exercises when I go to bed. I have got to say I was in excellent hands. I had been told don’t eat biscuits sweet things etc when I went to see the consultant who put the stent I he told me live your life and yes I can have a biscuit with a cup of tea. I have a pacemaker and that is fine. I sometimes worry but that’s me.

Take care and I hope you are fine.

Saimin profile image

I had acid reflux really bad at first followed by unusual pain in my left arm. I went to my primary care doctor and she sent me to a cardiologist. I couldn’t understand why. When I found out I had artery blockages, my cardiologist told me I was lucky because symptoms like this in women are usually ignored. I avoided having a heart attack and has to have stents placed.

Knit4fun profile image

I had a heart attack nearly two years ago. I thought I had indigestion and had been taking indigestion tablets. I also had pain in my jaw which I just thought was anxiety. Whilst I was in hospital the other ladies on my ward all said they thought they had indigestion too.

scentedgardener profile image

Like you I live with chronic pain so the question to ask yourself is "Is this normal for me?"Having witnessed my mother having 3 heart attacks, and having some issues myself, I believe there aren't really typical symptoms for men or women. Maybe they should draw up a list of "red flag symptoms."

Silin profile image

Hi Pink daisy, I had a heart attack 18 months ago. My symptoms were severe pain in both arms, sweating plus feeling generally awful. I’d had the pain in my arms earlier in the week. I spoke to my GP, who said it was nothing serious (probably).

Smitty1956 profile image

Hi, Pinkdaisy65,

I had a heart attack on March 24, 2022. I had had a basically normal day. I did things like laundry—taking laundry up and downstairs to my basement, folding and putting away clean clothes. I had done a tiny bit of yard work/trimming, and I had gathered up my trash, taken it outside to my trash can and put the can on the curb for pickup. Just normal things—making dinner, etc.

Around 8 pm, I stretched out on the couch to watch some television with my Mom. I felt relaxed, but I did notice heart palpatations/flutters over the evening. Plus, I seemed somewhat short of breath—but nothing major.

I sat up around 10 pm to start to get ready for bed, and I felt that my heart was beating faster. I had just bought an Apple Watch in January so I checked my heart rate. At that point, my bpm was going around 120–not good for just sitting up from being relaxed.

I have anxiety disorder so I think that I began to panic I wasn’t used to seeing my heart rate so high—it just kept going higher. Finally, I called the Emergency Squad for help. My heart rate was over 150bpm then. I felt somewhat sick at my stomach—felt very weak—and felt very hot. The EMT took my BP and it was crazy numbers. I decided to go to the hospital.

In the emergency room, they monitored me, put in an IV, did blood tests, took chest x-rays, did a CAT scan of my heart/chest, more blood tests, etc. My troponin levels were elevated, and it took until around 2am to get BP and heart rate somewhat settled. I had skipped all of my regular medicines that day so they eventually gave me the dosages that I had missed and they gave me more tests throughout the morning and early afternoon the next day

So, not major chest pain for me. My chest felt “funny.” I had a very high heart rate, very high blood pressure, palpitations, some nausea, a feeling of doom, panic, some fever/sweating, and elevated troponin levels.

After being discharged from the hospital, I still felt very bad. I was extremely weak, my heart would race (not 150+ bpm) even if I got up and just walked to the bathroom. I had some chest pains daily and palpitations/skipped beats. I was always short of breath. I remember just feeling panic constantly, and it took months in order to begin to feel better.

I was told that this was a heart attack, but I did not have some of the symptoms that we often hear about. I agree that a HA often looks different on different people. In general, I would advise seeking help when you have pain and/or nausea and a high heart rate and/or shortness of breath. You just never know, but it is a good idea to be checked out. Also, it is always wise to take all prescribed medicines—unless your doctor advises otherwise.

Best wishes to you.

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