HomeCHD & heart attackHow to recognize heart problems in women?

How to recognize heart problems in women?

In Germany, cardiovascular diseases are responsible for more than one third of all deaths. The sooner coronary heart disease (CHD) is detected, the better negative consequences such as heart attacks (med. myocardial infarction) can be avoided. Especially in women, coronary heart disease or myocardial infarction is detected very late. This is because the CHD symptoms in women are often less clear than in men. Learn here how you can better recognize heart attack symptoms or CHD symptoms in women and thus do something against coronary heart disease.


At a glance

Women can also benefit from Heart disease like coronary heart disease and Heart attack be affected. Often, however, these express themselves in the form of other complaints than in men. Classic CHD symptoms such as chest tightness (med. angina pectoris) or cardiac arrhythmias often fail to materialize.

In women, a CHD often through untypical, initially more harmless-seeming complaints. Due to back pain, abdominal pain or sweating, heart problems in women often remain undetected for a long time.

Untreated CHD can lead to serious consequences, such as. Heart attack, lead. Harbingers of heart attack are more likely for women Nausea or pain in the head, neck and back instead of the stabbing chest pain familiar in men. If you suspect a heart attack, call the emergency services immediately on 112.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) and heart attack - How to recognize heart problems in women?

Not everyone is aware that the Signs of a coronary heart disease (CHD) or from a Heart attack rather untypical for women are. Because Heart problems in women often do not manifest themselves with typical symptoms, such as chest tightness (med. angina pectoris). Mostly occur Symptoms that seem harmless at firstsuch as back pain and nausea. This can lead to coronary heart disease remaining undetected for a long time or to a heart attack in women not being recognized. 

Often occur CHD or heart attacks in women thereby only at an older age (about 65 years and older) than in men (about 55 years and older). The reason: Before menopause (med. menopause) has an effect on the Sex hormone estrogen For women dilating on the blood vessels off, so that the Risk factor a Arteriosclerosis (med. Arteriosclerosis) unlikely is. This reduces the risk of heart attacks and coronary heart disease. With the onset of menopause this protective effect falls away. This is possible with a increased risk for heart disease such as coronary heart disease (CHD) or a heart attack.

CHD symptoms women - What can be different from the classic symptoms?

Typical CHD symptoms such as pressure on the chest in the case of chest tightness (med. angina pectoris) remain partially absent in women. But how do heart problems in women announce themselves?

Typical CHD signs in women are for example:

  1. Shortness of breath or shortness of breath

  2. Sweats

  3. Back pain

  4. Nausea and vomiting

  5. Pain in the upper abdomen

  6. Pulling in the arms

  7. severe, unexplained fatigue

  8. cold hands and feet

But also classic CHD symptoms can occur in women, just are less likely than in men. More about the topic CHD symptoms men you will learn in the article "What are the symptoms of coronary artery disease? - Classic CHD symptoms".

Heart attack symptoms women - What to look for?

Similar to CHD, women are often more likely to report more atypical heart attack symptoms. Especially compared to the stinging in the chest known in men.

To the Harbingers of heart attack in women include, for example:

  • Pain in neck, back and head

  • Nausea

  • Feeling of pressure or tightness in the chest

What to do if you suspect CHD or myocardial infarction?

With a Suspicion of CHD or a Heart attack you should always consult a doctor or a clinic. Do you have sudden chest pain? Then you should immediately call the emergency doctor on 112! Your doctor can perform a CHD diagnosis through a Cardiac catheter examination or a Heart CT put. This allows him to detect narrowed and clogged arteries, check your heart function and give you the best possible treatment.

As a general rule, if you already medication for an angina pectoris attack (e.g. nitro spray, med. nitroglycerol), you have to use them for such situations. always within reach. Pay particular attention as a woman also on further more non-specific CHD and myocardial infarction symptoms (e.g. shortness of breath, tension). Especially if you are over 65 years old.

Coronary artery disease and heart attacks - Which treatment is suitable?

Coronary artery disease can be well treated together with the doctor or cardiologist. The main pillars of treatment: be extensively medically/medically cared for, a regular intake of the CHD drugs (e.g. antihypertensives), a Awareness of CHD symptoms and Complaints and the own Adapt lifestyle. Keep risk factors low by keeping your Always keep an eye on your own blood pressure values. Also Regular sport after myocardial infarction and with coronary heart disease into your everyday life and to heart healthy diet after heart attack and with CHD Reduces risk factors. Last, pay attention to, deal well with stress and to maintain a healthy approach to stimulants such as alcohol and cigarettes. In some patients with advanced CHD, interventions such as an Stent implantation or in severe cases a Bypass surgery, necessary. This is how constricted coronary vessels are bridged or dilated.

That sounds like quite a lot?

Understandable! The Life after heart attack and with CHD can feel quite upside down. 

Appshow the specially tailored for CHD Vantis heart app, here you can find a great support represent. The app helps you and your doctor understand the Overview of your health (incl. medication, blood pressure, occurring CHD symptoms and complaints) and to keep in small steps Adjust your lifestyle.

Extra tip: The medication and health coach

If in doubt, especially if you are a heart patient or at increased risk of heart attack or other heart disease, always consult your physician. If you suspect a heart attack, contact the emergency number 112 immediately.

  1. Federal Statistical Office. Cause of death statistics 2020: number of deaths increased by 4.9 %. Federal Statistical Office. https://www.destatis.de/DE/Presse/Pressemitteilungen/2021/11/PD21_505_23211.html (accessed Sept. 20, 2022).

  2. Angina pectoris - cardiovascular diseases. MSD Manual Profi-Ausgabe. https://www.msdmanuals.com/de-de/profi/herz-kreislauf-krankheiten/koronare-herzkrankheit/angina-pectoris?query=angina%20pectoris (abgerufen am 20.09.2022).

  3. Signs of a heart attack. healthinformation.com. https://www.gesundheitsinformation.de/anzeichen-eines-herzinfarkts.html (accessed Sept. 20, 2022).

  4. German Medical Association and National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians. CHD - when the heart vessels narrow. Patient-Information.com. https://www.patienten-information.de/kurzinformationen/koronare-herzkrankheit (accessed Sept. 20, 2022).

  5. German Medical Association and National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians. How is CHD diagnosed?. Patient-Information.com. https://www.patienten-information.de/patientenleitlinien/khk/kapitel-5 (accessed Sept. 20, 2022).

  6. Richartz, B. Coronary artery disease and heart failure-what is different in women? 2022, 11-18.

  7. Canto, J. G.; Canto, E. A.; Goldberg, R. J. Time to Standardize and Broaden the Criteria of Acute Coronary Syndrome Symptom Presentations in Women. Can. J. Cardiol. 2014, 30 (7), 721-728. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cjca.2013.10.015.

  8. Pschyrembel Editorial. Nitroglycerol. https://www.pschyrembel.de/Nitroglycerol/K0FA5 (accessed Sept. 20, 2022).

  9. Knuuti, J.; Wijns, W.; Saraste, A.; Capodanno, D.; Barbato, E.; Funck-Brentano, C.; Prescott, E.; Storey, R. F.; Deaton, C.; Cuisset, T.; Agewall, S.; Dickstein, K.; Edvardsen, T.; Escaned, J.; Gersh, B. J.; Svitil, P.; Gilard, M.; Hasdai, D.; Hatala, R.; Mahfoud, F.; Masip, J.; Muneretto, C.; Valgimigli, M.; Achenbach, S.; Bax, J. J.; ESC Scientific Document Group. 2019 ESC Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Chronic Coronary Syndromes. Eur. Heart J. 2020, 41 (3), 407-477. https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehz425.

Share the article with acquaintances and friends!