AHA: Younger Women May Ignore Signs of Heart Attack
Unaware of atypical signs, they're likely to attribute the cause to fatigue or indigestion
FRIDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- Younger women are likely to ignore signs of a heart attack that don't include classic signs such as crushing chest pain and shortness of breath. This can lead to long delays in seeking urgently needed care, according to research presented this week at the American Heart Association's Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Conference in Baltimore.
Judith Lichtman, Ph.D., of the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues conducted in-depth interviews with 30 women who had experienced a heart attack at an average age of 48.
The researchers found that most of the women attributed their heart attack symptoms to causes such as fatigue, indigestion, stress or overexertion. They also found that many women failed to seek emergency care because they first called their doctors and were scheduled for appointments within a few days. Some of the women who did seek emergency care said that they didn't receive prompt attention because the staff mistakenly believed that they had a non-cardiac condition.
"They wish that they had known that symptoms such as neck and shoulder pain, abdominal discomfort that was easy to mistake for indigestion, or unusual fatigue could signal a heart problem," Lichtman said in a statement. "They often said that TV doesn't show examples of the symptoms they experienced. If they knew, they would have responded to the symptoms sooner."