One reason for this is that women rarely have “Hollywood heart attacks”–the chest-clutching, grimacing, keeling-over scenarios seen in the movies. Comedian Rosie O’Donnell drove this home in a stand-up routine describing the heart attack she had at age 50. Her symptoms included intense pain in her biceps, extreme fatigue, and the worst hot flashes she’d ever experienced. She was pale as a ghost, and when she tried to eat, she threw up. (She came up with a catchy acronym for these symptoms: H-E-P-P-P—hot, exhausted, pain, pale, puke.)
Although these are typical signs of heart attacks in women, Rosie convinced herself that her arm pain was due to heavy lifting she’d done earlier that day. Actually, the pain can be anywhere in the upper body—chest, arms, shoulders, back, neck, chin, or jaw.