2. Chest Discomfort
"Pain in the chest is the classic symptom of heart attack, and 'the No. 1 symptom that we typically look for,' says Jean C. McSweeney, PhD, RN, associate dean for research at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Nursing in Little Rock and a pioneer in research on heart symptoms in women. But not all heart attacks cause chest pain, and chest pain can stem from ailments that have nothing to do with the heart.
Heart-related chest pain is often centered under the breastbone, perhaps a little to the left of center. The pain has been likened to 'an elephant sitting on the chest,' but it can also be an uncomfortable sensation of pressure, squeezing, or fullness. 'It's not unusual for women to describe the pain as a minor ache,' McSweeney says. 'Some women say the pain wasn't bad enough even to take a Tylenol.'
Women, more so than men, can also experience a burning sensation in their chest, rather than a pressure or pain. 'Sometimes people make the mistake that the pain comes from a stomach problem,' says Nieca Goldberg, MD, clinical associate professor of medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City and another expert on women's heart symptoms." *