But there may be a gender divide. While symptoms can vary greatly by person, studies show that men are more likely to exhibit classic signs. Women often experience symptoms not typically associated with heart attacks, which can appear weeks before the actual event, known to doctors as an acute myocardial infarction.
Some researchers point out that until the 1980s, heart disease was considered a male problem. As a result, many studies focused only on men and drew a narrow picture of the hallmark signs.
But in a study financed by the National Institutes of Health, scientists focused on female heart patients, 515 of them. They found that in the weeks before their attacks, 70 percent reported severe, unexplained fatigue, 48 percent reported sleep disturbances, and slightly fewer than half had shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety. During the attack, more than 50 percent had shortness of breath and weakness, and slightly fewer than half experienced extreme fatigue, a profuse cold sweat and dizziness. Other studies have had similar findings. The American Heart Association says chest pain is still the most common warning sign in both sexes; and while men can experience “atypical” symptoms as well, women should be particularly aware of them.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Women are more likely than men to experience nonclassic heart attack symptoms.http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/health/31real.html?src=sch&pagewanted=print