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Eight heart attack symptoms that are more common in women than men

Heart disease is a serious health condition in Ireland, with 1 in 4 women dying from it and strokes.

Women are six times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than breast cancer, according to Irish Heart.

General signs of a heart attack are the same in both genders, such as chest pain, pressure or discomfort that lasts more than a few minutes or comes and goes.

However, symptoms of a heart attack can differ between men and women.

The Mayo Clinic explained that it’s even possible to have a heart attack without chest pain.

Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as:

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or upper belly (abdomen) discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Heartburn (indigestion)

Women also tend to have symptoms more often when resting, or even when asleep. Emotional stress can play a role in triggering heart attack symptoms in women.

Women might be diagnosed less often with heart disease than are men, because of these differences.

Several traditional risk factors for coronary artery disease affect both women and men like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity.

But there are other factors that can play a more prominent role in the development of heart disease in women.

Heart disease risk factors for women include:

  • Diabetes. Women with diabetes are more likely to develop heart disease than are men with diabetes. Also, because diabetes can change the way women feel pain, there's an increased risk of having a silent heart attack — without symptoms.
  • Emotional stress and depression. Stress and depression affect women's hearts more than men's. Depression may make it difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow recommended treatment for other health conditions.
  • Smoking. Smoking is a greater risk factor for heart disease in women than it is in men.
  • Inactivity. A lack of physical activity is a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Menopause. Low levels of estrogen after menopause increase the risk of developing disease in smaller blood vessels.
  • Pregnancy complications. High blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy can increase the mother's long-term risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. These conditions also make women more likely to get heart disease.
  • Family history of early heart disease. This appears to be a greater risk factor in women than in men.
  • Inflammatory diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other inflammatory conditions may increase the risk of heart disease in both men and women.

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