FRIDAY, Feb. 10, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- One in 14 men having a heart attack make the dangerous decision to drive themselves to hospital, Irish researchers report.
Fewer women do so -- just 1 percent of those having an attack. However, the study found that female patients took five times as long as men (14 hours vs. 2.8 hours) to seek emergency hospital treatment after their symptoms first started.
"Even when their symptoms got bad, it still took women 3.1 hours to get there, compared with 1.8 hours for men," study author Sharon O'Donnell, of Trinity College, Dublin, said in a prepared statement.
The study of 890 male and female heart patients treated at six major Dublin teaching hospitals appears in the current issue of the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
O'Donnell and her colleagues also found that only 63 percent of women patients and 60 percent of men patients called an ambulance -- many of the others said they were too embarrassed to call. Four percent of men and 3 percent of women used public transport, while 33 percent of women and 29 percent of men said they had been driven to the hospital.
"Driving during a heart attack is obviously extremely dangerous for both the driver and the general public," O'Donnell said.
"People who drove themselves to the hospital said they did it because it was the quickest way to get to the hospital, they felt well enough to make the journey, and they would have pulled over if necessary," O'Donnell said. "However, many also reported that they felt they were going to collapse when they arrived in the casualty department."
"It is essential that people are warned of the dangers of driving when they are obviously unwell and encouraged to call an ambulance immediately if they suspect they are having a heart attack," O'Donnell said.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about heart attack warning signs.