Did you know a woman’s heart attack can be deadlier as compared to that of a man?

Heart attacks are caused when the blood flow to the heart stops or decreases due to partially or completely blocked arteries, which damages the heart muscles. A new study by the American Heart Association (AHA) has outlined the different causes and symptoms of heart attack in men and women. Heart diseases are a leading cause of death in women. More than 40,000 women died from heart attacks in 2014 according to the CDC’s national Centre for health statistics. The mortality rate is higher in younger women. This might come in as a shock as women often tend to ignore heart problem symptoms.


Although improvements have been made in the cardiovascular sector in the last few years but women are still far more at a risk of having a heart attack as compared to men. According to the AHA study, heart diseases are a leading cause of death among women, more than breast cancer even!

1 How are men and women’s heart attacks different?

Blood clot formation


Heart attacks are usually caused by blocked arteries that lead to no flow of blood to the heart. Blockages can occur both in men and women but the way a blood clot forms in the respective sexes may differ.

Blood clot formation

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2 Symptoms

The major difference in heart attack symptoms between men and women is that heart attack symptoms in women are atypical i.e. not the usual symptoms of heart attack. While men and women both may experience chest pain, which is the most common symptom, women are more likely to feel uncommon symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and pain in the neck, jaw, upper stomach and arm or the shoulder.


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3 Plaque

In some women, plaque build-up isn’t as prominent as in men, thus leading to a difficult diagnosis of heart ailments and increasing the risk factor. This plaque may then lead on to become a blood clot.


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4 Biological difference

Biological difference in heart failure between men and women may also be there. Women may frequently suffer from heart attacks that are not caused by blocked arteries but by artery tears or spasms, which are more difficult to diagnose.

Biological difference

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5 Why is it dangerous?

While the symptoms differ in men and women, these are the reasons that lead to heart attacks being more dangerous in women as compared to men. Primary reasons for this are:

As mentioned earlier, the symptoms are not as common as in men and due to these atypical symptoms, it is harder to recognise and treat women on time.


Studies show that women tend to take more time to heal. Also, when women are suggested or prescribed rehabilitation or complete rest after the heat episode, they are less likely to go through with it or complete it.

Heart episodes in women may seem to be a more complicated problem because it is harder to increase blood flow in women as their blood vessels tend to be smaller. Increased risk of diabetes and high blood pressure add to the higher rates of heart attacks in women. Studies suggest that a young woman with diabetes has 5 times more risk of heart attacks as compared to men.

Why is it dangerous?

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Though treatment for men and women are same, women may be misdiagnosed more often as their symptoms of heart attack are more subtle and atypical than men. “Men and women may benefit from the same medications, but because women’s disease may be more subtle, they may be misdiagnosed and not be treated as often,” said Suzanne R. Steinbaum, DO, director of Women’s Heart Health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Women ignore their symptoms of ailment more and wait longer to get treated. The delay in treating women is about 54 hours whereas in men it is 16 hours.


Studies are still going on to detect the point on difference and efforts are being made into implement better heart care among women.


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