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Heart Attack Symptoms Different in Women Increasing Mortality Risks

Updated on November 18, 2016
janderson99 profile image

John uses Biochemistry and Physiology (PhD) skills to review health topics, disease prevention, home remedies for ailments & better health

Recent research has confirmed that younger women, particularly those under the age of 55 years, have striking different warning signs and symptoms of impending heart attacks than men.

Because of this younger women are much more likely to die from a heart attack, because they ignore early warning signs. Response and reaction time are critical.

Overall men have significantly more heart attacks than women, but younger women are more likely to die. The average age of women admitted to hospital with heart attack symptoms are 74 years of age, compared with 67 for men.

Women are less likely to experience early warning signs of chest pains and discomfort at all ages and this is killing more of them. This means that women delay seeking help and emergency treatment tends to be less intense, and the outcome is that women have higher short term mortality rates after being admitted to hospital.

A recent analysis of hospital records showed that the average in-hospital death rate was 10.3% for men, but significantly higher for women at 14.6%. Women under 55 years of age are particularly at risk. Better education is required to alert women to the differences in signs and symptoms or heart attack that apply to them so that they can seek help much sooner. This article reviews the recent research.

A recent American study that analysed the hospital records for over 1 million patients has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. This showed that early recognition and quick-response management of people with heart attack symptoms was critical for preventing deaths. All women, but particularly younger women, don't necessarily display the typical and expected chest pain symptoms of a heart attack. Women are generally older than men when admitted to hospitals for heart attack symptoms. Women are also admitted less frequently with chest pain or discomfort than men. Overall, about 42% of women admitted to hospitals with heart attacks did not experience chest pain compared with 30% of men.

Because of delays caused by not recognising the symptoms, and seeking emergency help, women were more likely to die than men from the same age group. The conclusion from this study was that less women than men presented without chest pains and this contributed to the higher mortality rate for women within the same age group. The study also showed that the mortality rate for patients admitted without chest pain was higher in younger women compared with men in the same age group.

Chest pain or discomfort is the classic symptom of heart attack. Patients not showing chest pain or discomfort tend to call for help later, and are treated less aggressively by emergency medical staff. As a consequence patients admitted without chest pain show almost double the short-term mortality rate of those presenting with the classic symptoms. Heart attack do occur without dramatic and excruciating chest pains.Younger women should take heed of this advice because they are less likely to have chest pains.Symptoms vary considerably, for some people the pain is very severe, however others may only feel a mild heaviness or discomfort in the chest. The most important thing is to act early, and call emergency number as soon as there are various symptoms. Do not to wait until severe chest pains.

General Symptoms

  • A dull ache, pain or 'heaviness' feeling in the chest
  • Pain that spreads to the arm, back or stomach
  • Discomfort or unusual feeling in the chest that makes you feel unwell
  • Breathing difficulties and shortness of breath with chest discomfort
  • Chest pain that occurs simultaneously with a light-headed or dizzy feeling
  • Pain in the abdomen that resembles a bad episode of indigestion

Younger women are particularly at risk because their atypical symptoms can be glossed-over by inexperienced medical staff because younger women have few heart attacks.Most women with heart attacks are over 70 years of age.Although the survival rate of heart attacks is improving the general public and health care professionals need to be vigilant and aware that nearly half of women can have heart attacks without the typical chest pain most people see as a trigger for an emergency response.

Women are Generally Ignorant of Heart Attack Risks

Various UK research studies involving interviews of thousands of women have highlighted another danger - women are simply unaware of their vulnerability to heart attacks.

  • Only 10% of women older than 50 years said they had discussed heart disease risks during a GP visit.
  • A second poll of 2,829 women found that less than 50% women would dial an emergency number immediately if they were suffering some of the typical symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain. About 10% of the women interviewed said they would just go to bed if they had chest pain, and 7% said that they would carry on as normal and ignore the symptoms.
  • GPs may also at fault because most of the women had not discussed heart health with their female patients.

Conclusion: These results highlight the serious gaps in the way that women thinking about heart risks, heart attack symptoms that imposes greater risk for women. Too many lives are lost each year to heart attacks which are largely preventable through early intervention. Better education is needed so that women understand the symptoms and that chest pain is less likely to be experienced in women, especially women below 55 years of age.

© janderson99-HubPages



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  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 5 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Thank you for this well-written and informative hub. You have presented potentially life-saving tips. As a woman who suffered a heart attack in her 50's, I am very certain of the value of this education. I commend you. UP++

  • conradofontanilla profile image

    conradofontanilla 5 years ago from Philippines

    Angina pectoris or chest pain comes first before heart attack, except when there is severe lack of magnesium and coenzyme Q10 level falls to 25%. Angina is a warning for heart attack. Angina is a symptom of some occlusion in at least one coronary artery that supplies blood to heart muscles. Attending to the causes of angina at once preempts heart attack. The worsening of angina means worsening of occlusion in arteries that is a guarantee to heart attack. Well, as you said, education about heart disease is essential. I have a Hub "What Would I Do If I Had a Heart Attack?" I voted up and useful.

  • jean2011 profile image

    jean2011 5 years ago from Canada

    Very informative hub. Someone once told me that frequent heart burns could also be a sympton to watch for as well. I have voted your hub useful. Thank you for sharing!