Tell-tale Heart
Heart disease remains the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, yet its signs seem to evade even the most health-conscious females. Mainly, this is because heart-attack symptoms can be hard to decipher, especially since they can be quite different from the tell-tale signs men experience. As Nieca Goldberg, M.D., chief of the Women's Heart Program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, explains, "We usually picture a middle-aged man clutching his chest, but a woman having a heart attack can experience less common symptoms." While any of the signs below may be experienced by either sex, generally they fall into the male or female designation.


  • Chest tightness, pressure or heaviness
  • Pain that may radiate to shoulders, neck or arms, especially the left arm
  • Sudden rapid heartbeats
  • Nausea
  • Sweating


  • Discomfort that feels like heartburn in lower chest area Discomfort in the neck, jaw, or between the shoulder blades
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Left-arm tightness
  • Any signs listed for men, but less common

One more thing to keep in mind: Don't deny symptoms because you think you're too young for a heart attack. "Heart attacks are less common among younger women [under 50]," says Goldberg, "but studies show that they're twice as fatal."

­Angela Pirisi