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Heart Attack Symptoms Among Women Are Different From Men

Update Date: Jan 27, 2016 09:46 AM EST

Telltale signs of an impending heart attack were initially thought to be the same for both sexes until now. In a recently published report by the American Heart Association (AHA), heart attack symptoms are different between men and women. This implies that our current understanding on the nature of heart disease in women is largely misunderstood and inappropriately treated.

This means that many heart attack symptoms in women often go undetected for long periods of time or simply mistaken for other health conditions.

This eye-opening statement from the charity group has shaken the established knowledge on cardiovascular diseases exposing medical gaps in conventional treatment of heart attacks in women.

"Over the last 10 years or so, we've learned that women's hearts are different than men's in some significant ways, and while that's helped reduce mortality, there's much more to know," remarked Dr. Laxmi Mehta, a non-invasive cardiologist and the head of the Women's Cardiovascular Health Program at Ohio State University who also authored the recent AHA statement as quoted by Headlines and Global News.

The AHA report, featured in the scientific journal Circulation, also highlighted that African-Americans and Hispanic women tend to have higher heart attack risk resulting to often life-threatening outcomes once they have one.

"Despite stunning improvements in cardiovascular deaths over the last decade, women still fare worse than men and heart disease in women remains under diagnosed, and undertreated, especially among African-American women," said Dr. Mehta as mentioned in a report by CBS News.

So how are women different from men?

Based on AHA findings, artery blockages are less obvious in women because clogging plaques do not stick out in the artery walls which makes the heart attack signs easily slip through detection. In addition, warnings come in different forms. Apart from the usual chest pain that both sexes experience, women also suffer from arms and back pains, palpitations without the chest pain, neck or jaw pain, and nausea. Furthermore, biological variables unique to women such as hormonal fluctuation also account for the difference.

Failure of taking these information into perspective would result in dire consequences for women's cardiovascular health.

"If doctors don't correctly diagnose the underlying cause of a woman' heart attack, they may not be prescribing the right type of treatments after the heart attack," the AHA statement warned as mentioned in a report by NBC News.

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