Women and Heart Attacks

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We hope it is not a secret that women can have different symptoms when having a heart attack than men do.  Besides chest pain and discomfort, other symptoms include; shortness of breath, nausea, pain in the jaw or back can signal a heart attack.  In a recent study published in JAMA, it was found that women hospitalized for heart attacks were less likely to have chest pain/discomfort than men (42.0% vs 30.7%).  The study also showed that when hospitalized the mortality rate for women was higher than for men (14.6% vs 10.3%).

It was interesting that age was also a factor, the differences between men and women and heart attack decreased with increasing age.  This is particularly interesting, when you consider that drug development for cardiac therapies has historically be done on men and older women (past childbearing age).  It seems that there may not be many differences in this age group but for younger women what does this mean? More research is necessary, but one theory is that estradiol may play a role, as estradiol concentrations decrease after menopause.  For now the authors are recommending that younger women be made more aware of the possibility that a heart attack might not be accompanied by chest pain and to seek immediate care if other symptoms are present such as: shortness of breath, nausea, pain in the jaw or back .

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