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Women and Heart Attacks

by Jessica B. February 22nd, 2019 | Health News
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A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that women are more likely to die in the hospital after a heart attack than men. Part of the reason may be that women are less likely to experience symptoms of chest pains when having a heart attack, and thus don’t go to the hospital as quickly.

There has been a lot of talk lately about women’s symptoms being different than men’s symptoms, but even with increased awareness, the nature of symptoms women tend to experience make it difficult to gauge the severity of the situation.

Women may experience dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and back pain. The study showed that 42% of women did not have chest pain of any kind. As treatment for heart attacks depends on an early response, the time lapse between when women begin to experience their symptoms to when they arrive at the hospital could be the cause of the larger death rate.

The study also noted that women presenting at the hospital with these symptoms were in some cases treated less aggressively, which could also lend to different outcomes.

After a heart attack begins, the heart becomes damaged, and starts to die. This leads to scarring which can cause long-term damage. This damage can lead to decreased quality of life and eventually death. If the heart attack is treated quickly, extensive damage can be avoided.

Also, women tend to be older than men when experiencing their heart attack, which could also lead to the discrepancy. The study suggests there might be a hormonal protection in place, something to do with estrogen, which protects women for longer.

Although more studies need to be done in terms women’s heart attacks, we also need to work on boosting awareness for female heart attack symptoms. For so many years we have heard about the right arm shooting pain and the chest pains, but this is often not the case for women, and according to the study, about 30% of men don’t have chest pain either.

If we increase the dialogue and make people more aware of the risks and symptoms, perhaps they will be quicker to seek treatment. As time is of the essence, if they make it to the hospital a few hours earlier, it could be the difference between life and death.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.