Thrive by IU Health

February 17, 2021

Heart disease and women: The reality. The symptoms.

IU Health Bloomington Hospital

Heart disease and women: The reality. The symptoms.

Now hear this! One out of four women, a truly frightening and staggering statistic, will die from heart disease. Globally. Let that sink in...

Many women don’t have any symptoms of heart disease whatsoever until they have an emergency. As primary caretakers within most families, women are charged with managing the entire family and oftentimes, dismiss subtle symptoms that may not only impact her health, but adversely affect the health and well-being of the entire family.

“Since symptoms are oftentimes silent, or begin as a slight whisper, it is critical for women to be highly attuned to subtleties by paying close attention to how she really feels vs how she reports she feels or tells herself she has to feel based upon her responsibilities," said IU Health Southern Indiana Physicians cardiologist Mohan Shenoy, MD.

Some symptoms, like fatigue and nausea are recognizable in the lives of most women living in the 21st century so knowing the difference between a "good tired vs. a bad tired" or a "nervous tummy vs. alarming abdomen" could save a woman's life. In either case, symptoms should not be ignored. Maintaining regular wellness visits with a primary care physician is key to communicating and tracking subtle "feeling" changes that could have long-term impact on a woman's life. The old adage directly applies to women and heart disease: It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Early symptoms of heart disease and heart attack in women include:

  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • general weakness
  • changes in skin color, such as grayish skin
  • sweating
  • chest pain or discomfort- either sharp, or dull and heavy (angina)
  • neck, jaw, or throat pain
  • upper abdomen pain
  • upper back pain
  • swelling in legs, feet, or ankles
  • weight gain
  • problems sleeping
  • heart palpitations
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • sweating
  • lightheadedness
  • indigestion
  • heartburn
  • anxiety
  • fainting

*Symptoms may occur while at rest or during daily activities.


Heart Health

Related Services

Featured Providers

View More Providers