Women more likely to die of heart attacks

ABC World News reported “a groundbreaking study” that “hammers home critical points about women and heart attacks. A woman is less likely than men to experience that classic warning sign, chest pain. And she’s less likely than a man to get immediate treatment – and more likely to die.”

The CBS Evening News reported, “Today a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association says that women may be missing the warning signs of a heart attack.”

USA Today reports, “Women having heart attacks are … more likely to die in the hospital, says a groundbreaking new study that tracked more than 1.1 million patients. Women are less likely to get immediate treatment to stop the heart attack in its tracks: clot-busting drugs, balloon procedures to open the arteries or bypass surgery, the study says. Partly because of such delays, 15% of female heart attack patients die in the hospital, compared with 10% of men.”

The Boston Globe adds that according to cardiologist Dr. Stacy Fisher, who was uninvolved in the study, “plenty of men in the study also presented without chest pain, and in both genders, the absence of chest pain was associated with a four- to five-fold increase in mortality.”

In addition, “the absence of chest pain symptoms appeared to result in a delay in diagnosis and treatment, the study found. Those without chest pain came into the hospital for treatment, on average, about two hours later and were given EKGs to check for signs of a heart attack about 15 minutes later than those with chest pain.”

Bloomberg News reports, “Chest pain and discomfort were still the most common symptom among those hospitalized for heart attacks, and they should be emphasized in public education campaigns, the researchers said. The finding that the absence of chest pain may help predict the risk of death is ‘provocative,’ and should be confirmed by additional studies, they said.”

Bloomberg News adds, “More than one million Americans suffer heart attacks each year, and half die as a result, according to the National Institutes of Health.”

“Although chest pain or discomfort is the most common heart attack symptom, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath and pain or numbness in the jaw, arms or back can also signal a blocked artery cutting off vital oxygen and nutrients from the heart,” ABC News reports on its website.

The CNN “The Chart” blog reports, “Among the study participants, women presenting with heart attacks were older than men, averaging 74 years compared to 67 years for men.”

Researchers acknowledged that “the reasons for sex-based differences in heart attacks are largely unknown,” but “they cite research suggesting that estrogen in women may have a protective effect on their hearts.”

MedPage Today points out, “Absence of chest pain was associated with diabetes and delayed hospital arrival, irrespective of age or sex. Patients with chest pain were more likely to have ST-elevation MI (STEMI) and anterior MI, whereas those without pain or discomfort were more likely to have non-STEMI, irrespective of age and sex.”

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