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Why women are likelier to die of heart attacks

Written by Nirmalya Dutta |Updated : June 5, 2015 3:33 PM IST

Woman-heart attack

A recent study suggests that young women have higher death rates than men due to heart attacks because of the fact that they don't undergo chest pains usually associated with disease. According to data analysed form the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction from 1994-2006, women especially younger women are more prone to dying from heart attacks.

This is due to the fact that painless heart attacks are usually treated less aggressively, and have almost twice the short-term mortality compared with patients who have the more typical symptoms of heart attacks (Myocardial Infarction or MI). Of the total number of patients brought to hospitals with heart attacks about 42% were women, compared to 37% men.

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Some common symptoms of heart attacks in women are:

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the centre of your chest. These pains are infrequent and come and go.
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.
  • As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

The study suggests that medics need to be trained to recognize these symptoms in women because early detection helps decrease the mortality rate. Also your physician might advise an ECG, test for cholesterol, thyroid test, etc. every six month or so just to be on the safe side.

Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease.

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