Infarction symptoms: is there a difference between women and men?

Some common symptoms of a heart attack are pain and / or pressure on the left side of the chest, which can target the upper limbs. However, these reactions may not be the only ones during a heart attack, making it difficult for a person to identify.

With that in mind, understand what symptoms, in addition to the conventional ones, can be linked to a heart attack and the differences between a heart attack in men and women.


What are the symptoms of a heart attack?

Pain on the left side of the chest is usually the most characteristic symptom of a heart attack.

Infarction symptoms tend to vary, since factors such as age, sex and clinical condition interfere with the appearance of signs. Thus, there are no rules for how the symptoms of a heart attack will arise, and a person may manifest all the reactions expected during a heart attack or only a few.

A heart attack can happen to anyone (especially if they have a family history), however, individuals over 45 who have any of the risk factors ( smoking , high blood pressure, diabetes , obesity , physical inactivity, stress , anxiety and depression ) are more likely to have a heart attack.

Symptoms that can occur during a heart attack are:

  • Paleness and cold sweat: during the period before the infarction, it is common for the person to lose the natural color of the skin, becoming pale and also beginning to sweat excessively; 
  • Palpitations: due to the change in heart rate, which becomes faster at that moment, palpitations may appear;
  • Muscle weakness: the feeling of muscle tiredness can occur a few hours before the heart attack, so it is a warning sign for people who are in the risk group;
  • Dizziness and fainting: due to the reduced flow of cerebral oxygenation, the heartbeat ends up becoming irregular, leading to dizziness;
  • Nausea and nausea: these reactions occur due to discomfort in the abdominal region, which if they are constant, can mean the onset of a heart attack.
  • Pain in the left side of the chest: this is the most characteristic symptom of a heart attack, in general, the person begins to feel a pain or pressure in the chest that starts weak and can intensify over time, this reaction lasts on average 30 minutes ;
  • Pain in the upper limbs: The sensation of numbness or tingling in the arms, shoulders and even the mandible is one of the very common symptom of infarction, since the pain felt in the chest usually spreads to the upper limbs (usually on the left side of the body);
  • Back pain: often the pain or intense tightness in the chest causes the person who is suffering a heart attack to have a feeling of heaviness in the lumbar region;
  • Difficulty breathing and coughing: the infarction can affect other systems, in addition to the heart, so the tightness in the chest can affect the lung structure during the heart attack, causing shortness of breath and dry cough.

How to identify the beginning of a heart attack?

In general, to identify the onset of a heart attack, it is necessary to notice the appearance of pain in the center of the chest that may or may not spread to places such as the neck, back and arms (especially the left). These symptoms usually appear in the early hours of the morning.

Identifying a heart attack may not be an easy task, especially if the symptoms that arise are not those that characterize the heart attack (pain / tightness in the chest and tingling in the left arm). In addition, some people may have a silent heart attack (not realizing the problem) or confuse the reactions with other illnesses they have.

Usually, men aged 45 and women over 55, are more likely to suffer a heart attack, so it is recommended that from that age onwards, they start going to the frequent cardiologist for preventive consultations.

In addition, to reduce the risk of heart attack, it is important to exercise regularly, take care of your food, not use tobacco products and control existing diseases.

Is there a difference between female and male infarction?

Although a heart attack can occur with anyone, there are differences in how it occurs in women and men .

This happens due to the physiology and the execution of cardiac functions, since women have a slightly smaller heart than men and have a higher frequency of heart beats. In addition, the structure of the coronary arteries has a thinner thickness, being susceptible to blockages (both in smaller and larger arteries).

Thus, the symptoms that appear before or during myocardial infarction are distinguished by virtue of sex.


In general, women may experience the symptoms considered less common of a heart attack, such as: stomach pain, nausea, shortness of breath, tiredness without explanation, chest discomfort such as burning, stitches and palpitations.


When it comes to the male audience, the symptoms presented are those considered to be the most traditional of a heart attack.

They are a sensation of pain and pressure in the chest, which can radiate to other areas such as the arms, neck, jaw, stomach and lower back. There may also be nausea, vomiting, cold sweat and fainting.

What to do?

It is essential to seek medical attention for a person who is suffering a heart attack.

As soon as you notice that someone is having a heart attack, it is essential to call 192 and urgently request the Mobile Emergency Care Service (SAMU) so that the person can be seen as soon as possible.

While waiting, it is necessary that the individual sit in a comfortable position without making any sudden movements, and with loose clothing and accessories.

If the person passes out on the spot, it is important to start cardio respiratory resuscitation on the spot, which should be as follows:

  1. Kneel beside the person and check for signs of breathing, either by observing movements of the chest or checking the pulse;
  2. Then, place one hand over the other in the center of the chest (so that the fingers are intertwined), which is between the nipples;
  3. After that, with your arms straight and using your own body weight, do strong and quick compressions (if you are an adult or child it must be 5 cm deep, babies 4 cm);

The frequency of the indicated compressions is 100 per minute, that is, 5 compressions every 3 seconds.