I had an incident this past weekend that made me think about the differences, yet again, between a Heart Attack and Costochondritis.  You see I have a family history of female heart disease.  My mother suffered from a heart attack and had angina starting in her 50’s. Her mother suffered several heart attacks (though she lived to be 96) and my sister had a heart attack at 50.  So I am very careful about eating a healthy diet, very mindful of my cholesterol and I don’t smoke.  My only issue is and always has been my weight.  However, my sister is barely 100 lbs so I will leave that there.

I have suffered from Costochondritis for a few years now.  However, this time it was different.  I never had the pain in my back before where it radiated down my arm. I never had indigestion at the same time before. I never had nausea or moments of stopping myself from vomiting before.  It took a bit before I put it all together and thought of my sister.  Next thing I did was call for someone to take me to the hospital.  In hindsight maybe I should have called an ambulance but I think I got to the hospital just as fast since I didn’t have trouble breathing.

I have to admit, the hospital did take an EKG very fast.  Afterwards, there were chest x-rays, blood tests (followed by a repeat of the blood tests 8 hours later), and a CT Scan with dye to follow the main arteries.  So 12 hours later and no sleep I get a clean bill of health and sent home saying they really don’t know what caused the pain.  At that point, being so tired and just wanted my bed, I didn’t want to look like a know it all or maybe worse and say I DO.  Instead, following are the symptoms for both a Heart Attack and Costochondritis.

Heart Attack Warning Signs


* Sudden discomfort or pain that does not go away with rest

* Pain that may be in the chest, neck, jaw, shoulder, arms or back

* Pain that may feel like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure

* In women, pain may be more vague

* Chest pain or discomfort that is brought on with exertion and goes away with rest

Shortness of breath * Difficulty breathing

Nausea * Indigestion, * Vomiting

Sweating * Cool, clammy skin

Fear * Anxiety, * Denial

Symptoms of Costochondritis


* sharp, stabbing pain in the front of the chest

* ribs that are sore to the touch

* pain on the left or right side of the chest

* upper chest pains

* burning pain in the ribs

* pain that radiates up the back of the neck and shoulders

* pain in your chest when you sneeze or cough

* pain that increases with activity, exertion, or deep breathing

* pain that decreases with rest, movement, or slow breathing


Women often have different symptoms than men.

Some women experience ‘Silent Heart Attacks’  where there is no pain or any other symptoms.


For more important information on what you need to know about women and heart disease please go to Women Heart The National Coalition for Women and Heart Disease. Their link is here:


Have a Great Day!


About Donna

I came from a financial background including banking, insurance and real estate. I am an advocate for people taking there health into their own hands. That includes mental, physical and spiritual health. I am also a mother and grandmother (babcia) to a delightful, rambunctious, curious, beautiful, precious....(I can go on for ever) little boy.. who melts my heart every day.
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