Heart Attack Symptoms For Women Over 50 – Risks of Menopause

If you’ve always thought of heart disease as being a disease suffered by elderly, beer-bellied, chain-smoking and stress imbued men, think again! These days, one of the demographic groups hardest hit by heart disease is that of menopausal women. As if you don’t already have enough to deal with at this time of life – what with the hot flashes, the hair loss, the depression and the night sweats…

Bye Bye Estrogen…Hello Heart Disease

It seems that with the loss of estrogen during menopause, the door is opened to factors which lead to increased heart disease. This is why younger women before menopause do not face the same risks of heart disease – they still have increased stores of estrogen. Estrogen then, in effect, is a protection against heart disease. Bummer for menopausal women:(

Risk Factors Which May Predispose You to Heart Disease

Being obese. It is well known that carrying too much weight puts unnecessary strain on your heart, causing it to work harder just for normal activities.

Lack of Exercise. Hand-in-hand with obesity, lack of exercise just exaggerates the problem of strain on the heart.

Smoking. This narrows the arteries, causing blockage in the blood flow to the heart.

Stress. With higher levels of stress, elevated levels of the stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol flood the system. This leads to problems with the way the blood clots and increases the risk of heart attack. It also leads to inflammation and plaque build up in the arteries.

Depression. Heart Disease and Depression are strongly linked. Depressed people do not tend to care much for their health. Depression triggers stress hormones as we’ve already discovered, which can lead to heart disease.

Family History of Heart Disease. If you have close family members who have had a heart attack, you are predisposed to having a heart attack.

Diabetes. Your blood vessels can be damaged from high blood glucose levels due to diabetes.

High Blood Pressure which you are taking medication to control.

General Symptoms of Heart Attack


  • Chest pain – a “squeezing” sensation which may be constant or occasional.
  • Pain in the upper body – including left shoulder, jaw or arms.
  • Sweating profusely
  • Nausea and maybe vomiting
  • Feeling light-headed and dizzy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Anxiety and a feeling of “doom”

Additional Symptoms for Women

  • Extreme fatigue, which may have a sudden onset which may last for several days.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Jaw pain or pain in the throat.
  • Upper body pain which includes shoulders, neck or chest pain which may spread to your arm.
  • Indigestion-like feelings.
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep disturbances

Symptoms Most Commonly Associated With Women Over 50

  • Extreme tightness in the chest or chest pain.
  • Extreme sweating
  • Change in heartbeat – either rapid beating or skipping a beat
  • Upper body pain is evident – in the back, neck, jaw or arms

Sobering News

The scary thing about heart attacks happening to women is that they have less chance of surviving a heart attack than men do. According to the Women’s Heart Foundation, 42% of women die within 1 year of having a heart attack compared to only 24% of men.

Furthermore, since 1984, the gap continues to widen between the survival rates of women and men after suffering a heart attack. Women are 3 times as likely to die  as men after heart bypass surgery, and women tend to wait far longer than men to go to the emergency room with chest pain. Additionally, doctors are slower to recognize these women as having symptoms of heart attack due to their atypical symptoms of chest pain and EKG changes.

For me, the frightening thing is that the symptoms of heart attack so closely mimic other common complaints for menopausal women that it is not easy to identify. Things like sweating, dizziness, sleep disturbances and various aches and pains may be construed as “normal” issues of menopause. It seems like we must pay especial attention to chest pain, palpitations and pain in the jaw and upper body. Unfortunately, sometimes symptoms are easily overlooked or atypical.

It seems like the best prevention is not to travel down that road in the first place. Keep an eye on your weight, take in regular exercise, control your blood pressure and stop smoking. According to the Women’s Heart Foundation, women’s hearts respond more positively to healthy lifestyle changes than men’s hearts, although very little governmental budget seems to be allocated to prevention of heart attacks.

Have you ever experienced any of these symptoms, or have you ever thought that you could be a candidate to have a heart attack? Please feel free to comment, or to share your experience which may help someone else.



Author: Natz

I am a certified personal trainer, teacher, and writer with a passion for all three of those things, and elephants! Oh, and owls! I've been involved in counseling and the joy of my soul is to help as many people in life that I can.

10 thoughts on “Heart Attack Symptoms For Women Over 50 – Risks of Menopause”

  1. This is an important post.
    We have always been told that heart attacks effect far more men than women and that the cause is often caused by stress, overweight and an unhealthy lifestyle. I read somewhere that these days women actually suffer from more heart attacks than men. You point out exercise as one important factor to improve health and decrease the risk of heart attacks. Well I have heard that lack of exercise is the biggest cause of health problems in the world, kiling more people than smoking, drugs or alcohol abuse do.
    Thank you for a great post.

    1. The interesting thing is that even an hour of exercise several times per week on a regular basis is not enough to ensure great health if we suffer from “sitting disease” – sit for hours daily for our jobs. You may be interested in a way to counteract this if it applies to you here http://maturewomanfitness.com/what-is-a-treadm…he-pros-and-cons. If not, it is still an interesting read as most people have no idea about this issue!

  2. I think it’s really important to get over to women the fact that heart disease is just as prevalent in the female as it is in in the male.
    The risk factors you speak of are often dismissed by the girls, but a couple of them are more relavent to the older woman than to men.
    Take the weight problem for instance. It seems to be so much easier for women to put on weight and more women than men are obese and the gap is widening.
    As for stress, I know many men have stressful jobs but for a woman, stress is often encountered from morning ’til night, juggling with work and caring for hubbies, elderly parents, grandchildren etc.. Stress is one of the biggest killers and causes of hypertension and heart disease.
    This is the kind of information women need, to make them realize they have to look after themselves first so they have their health and are able to look after their families. Great post. Ches

    1. Thanks for the comment Ches! Yep, we certainly do have to prioritize our health more or we will not be able to look after our families at all – instead they will be looking after us!

      We women seem to be “always on” and multi=tasking is not all it’s cracked up to be!

  3. Thanks for a very interesting article on women and heart attacks. I am of that age and I do have a family history of heart attacks. Its good to be reminded of the reasons for heart attacks and what I can do to prevent them. Good read and I will be back!

    1. Glad that this has served as a reminder – many women put themselves last and suffer the consequences! Will be happy to see you back often on the site as I’ll be adding a lot more health-related articles.

  4. Hello here, thanks for the informative article regarding heart attack symptoms and ways how to prevent it.
    Women are under more stress as men because most of us have duties at work and at home. Some of us live as sandwiches: between taking care of parents and having at home teenagers.
    Stress can lead to obesity which is dangerous to heart. Junk food, lack of sleep can make us weak and prone to various problems.
    My savior from problems is magnesium. Previously I felt that I have the heart. No pain but heart beats faster, later gives some feelings that something is not so good.
    I started take magnesium and all symptoms disappeared.
    It is my story. Everybody is different.
    All the best, be healthy and wealthy, Nemira.

    1. Hi Nemira

      Thanks for the tip about magnesium, not the first time I’ve heard this! Will also give it a try! Best wishes for your great health!

  5. Thanks for writing this and bringing menopause related issues to our attention. When my mom went into depression 10 years ago, I had the first hand experience on what post menopause can do to one’s well being.

    Now, that I am a working career woman, shrouded with a stressful lifestyle, I can’t imagine how menopause would affect me in the later life. I seems to have all the preclinical signs already although I am still far from the cut-off age.

    I think I really need to slow down and think about my health so that when the time comes, I’ll be more physically and emotionally prepared.

    1. Hi Cathy

      Thanks for your comment. Yes, best to be mindful of what happens to women in menopause before you reach that age as you will be far better prepared.

      Unfortunately, it hits us all prepared or not – just a normal life phase, but we will fare much better if we know what to expect. If you can look after your health now, eat healthy, control your weight and exercise, it will help you later for sure! Less likely to be depressed too!

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