Women's Health Week 6-10 September 2021

Cardiovascular Disease and Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

Cardiovascular Disease is a leading cause of illness and death amongst women in Australia. In 2017-2018, more than half a million women aged 18 and over were diagnosed with Cardiovascular Disease during this year alone. Cardiovascular Disease is a broad term used to describe the many different conditions that affect the heart and blood vessels. Coronary Heart Disease, or Ischaemic Heart Disease is the most common condition which has two main clinical forms, angina and heart attack. Heart attack occurs when a blood vessel supplying the heart is suddenly blocked, leading to damage of the heart muscle, and compromising its functions.


Did you know that heart attack symptoms in women can be different to those experienced by men?


As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort however women are somewhat more likely than men to experience other symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. It has also been noted that women often experience heart attack symptoms when at rest.

Common Symptoms of Heart Attack

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the centre of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.

  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, call triple zero (000) immediately and ask for an ambulance if the pain is severe, getting worse or lasts for longer than 10 minutes.


Having one heart attack or other cardiac event increases your risk of having another. Your mental health, social interactions with people, and participation in activities play a huge role in your recovery and improving your quality of life. It is important to avoid isolation and make sure you are connecting with family, friends and support groups with your peers. Our mission is to facilitate the transition of cardiac patients from hospital to home, for as long as is needed, by providing the physical, psychological, and social support to help reduce the risk of a secondary cardiac event.

Heart Support Australia facilitates peer support groups in locations across Australia, and for those in rural, regional or pandemic lockdown areas, we have now introduced an online peer support group via Zoom to keep you connected.

To join one of our peer support groups, either near you or online, for information, support and encouragement call us on 02 6253 0097 or send an email to office@heartnet.org.au to register.