Friday, November 28, 2008

Heart Attacks Are Different In Women

Heart disease kills more people of both sexes than all cancers combined. More women than men have died from heart disease in the U.S. every year since 1984, and they are twice as likely as men to die after a heart attack yet modern medicine is still trying to figure out the difference between men and women.

According to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) women are far more likely than men to be hospitalized for chest pain for which doctors can't find a cause. In 2006 there were 477,000 women discharged from U.S. hospitals with a diagnosis of nonspecific chest pain, compared with 379,000 men. This is important because that diagnosis is often given to patients who are admitted for a possible heart attack that turns out not to be one.

The problem is that heart attacks often look different in women than men. While both frequently report chest pain, pressure or tightness, women more often have subtle signs. These may include dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, aches in the back, shoulders or abdomen, sudden weakness or fatigue or an overwhelming feeling of doom. A 2003 study found that 95% of women who had heart attacks started feeling some of those symptoms a month or more before.

Be smart, be safe, and if you feel any of these symptoms then err on the side of caution and take action NOW. Remember the old saying: Better Safe Than Sorry.

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