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AHA: Young Women Unaware of Myocardial Infarction Signs

Pilot study suggests that more than half don't recognize typical or atypical symptoms

MONDAY, May 14 (HealthDay News) -- Women under age 55 are unlikely to recognize the signs of acute myocardial infarction and to seek prompt medical attention, according to a pilot study presented at the American Heart Association's 8th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke in Washington, D.C.

Judith Lichtman, Ph.D., of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues conducted a pilot study of 24 women aged 55 and younger who were hospitalized for acute myocardial infarction.

The researchers found that 88 percent of subjects had the traditional symptom of severe chest pain but that only 42 percent considered that it might be heart-related. Other reported symptoms included pain in the jaw/shoulder (58 percent), sweating (38 percent), nausea (29 percent) and shortness of breath (29 percent). The researchers also found that only half of subjects sought care within an hour of symptom onset, mostly because they didn't believe they were having a heart attack.

"We have to get the messages across to young women that they are at risk for a heart attack, they might experience not only typical but also atypical symptoms, and they need to be aware of their own risk factors, including family history," Lichtman said in a statement. "Prevention and modification of risk factors is important for young women."

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