- The Washington Times - Monday, February 19, 2018

Women and their health care providers are less likely to identify a heart attack based on their symptoms compared with men, according to research published in a journal associated with the American Heart Association.

Researchers interviewed over 2,000 women and almost 1,000 men aged 18 to 55 who were hospitalized for a heart attack. Of the patients, differences in symptom presentation and gender led to women being diagnosed less often for a heart condition than men.

The most startling of the findings was that while a similar number of women and men hospitalized for heart attacks sought earlier health care for painful symptoms, more women were told their symptoms weren’t related to a heart condition — 53 percent, compared to 37 percent of men.

The full was report was published Monday in the journal Circulation.

“The backdrop for all of this is the fact that a young woman who is hospitalized with a heart attack has a higher risk of mortality than a similarly aged man in this age group of 18 to 55,” Dr. Judith Lichtman, lead author of the study, told CNN.

Dr. Lichtman is also an associate professor in the department of chronic disease epidemiology at Yale School of Public Health.

While the majority of patients said they complained of chest pains, women were more likely to report at least three or more additional symptoms, such as esophageal discomfort, heart palpitations, and pain in the jaw, neck, arms or between the shoulder blades.

Women were also more likely to attribute their symptoms to stress or anxiety, but less likely attribute their symptoms to muscle pain.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and the leading cause of death among women.

“In the United States, 1 in 4 women die from heart disease, yet the vast majority of women remain unaware that the single greatest risk to their health and longevity is heart disease,” Dr. Joseph Hill, editor-in-chief of Circulation and professor of medicine and molecular biology at UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas, said in a statement released by the AHA.

“With this issue we shine a bright light on some of the best science emerging in the domain of women’s cardiovascular health,” he said.

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