Study: Women show different heart attack symptoms

February 21, 2012 1:47:44 PM PST
A new study shows that men and women really are different, especially when it comes to heart attacks.

"Women do in fact have a different symptom presentation especially amongst the younger women and they are the highest risk for death," Dr. John G. Canto said.

Researchers from the Watson Clinic in Florida analyzed data on over one million patients, part of a national registry. They found that women under the age of 55 are less likely to have the classic sign of chest pain and more likely to die from a heart attack. The lack of typical symptoms could delay an aggressive treatment plan.

"The classical symptom really involves chest discomfort, however it is possible to have a heart attack in absence of chest pain. When a blood clot forms you can get cell death within one hour after symptom onset," adds Canto.

Since 2004 the "Go Red for Women" campaign has pushed the message that heart disease is not just an older man's disease, it's the number one killer of American women. Through fashion and public service announcements, a reminder to super moms and super women, don't forget to take care of you.

Cardiologists say today's new research is another reason to pay attention to even the most subtle signs.

"Sometimes women have more nausea, they may have vomiting, they may have flu-like symptoms" Dr. Nancy Albert said.

"If we're having things like jaw pain, or throat pain, or left arm pain, may have a little tingling or a slight pain in our chest and we may blow it off. If we have a constellation of symptoms that are different and unusual, we absolutely should go have it checked out," adds Dr. Albert.