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CCC: Women Often Ignore Signs of Heart Disease

Researchers find they're more likely than men to delay seeking medical help

FRIDAY, Oct. 31, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to heart disease, a new study finds women are more likely than men to delay care when they experience symptoms. These findings were presented at the annual Canadian Cardiovascular Congress, held from Oct. 25 to 28 in Vancouver.

"The main danger is that when someone comes to the hospital with a more severe or advanced stage of heart disease, there are simply fewer treatment options available," study author Catherine Kreatsoulas, Ph.D., a Fulbright Scholar and research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said in a news release from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

In the study, researchers talked to patients who sought medical care for angina and were waiting to undergo angiogram tests to look for signs of coronary artery disease. The researchers found that, compared to women, men acted more quickly when they developed symptoms and spent less time denying the symptoms existed or dismissing them as not important enough to require immediate care.

"Women displayed more of an optimistic bias, feeling that the symptoms would pass and get better on their own," Kreatsoulas said. "When women feel even a small improvement in symptoms, they seem to dismiss them for a longer period of time." Previous research suggests that women are more likely to worry about being out of commission due to medical care, "and not necessarily as concerned about the best treatment options," Kreatsoulas added.

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