“Younger women may have been somewhat overlooked at heart disease risk, and this is something health care providers need to be aware of,” says study co-author Melissa Kogi, PhD, a cardiovascular disease specialist at University of North Carolina College. Medicine at Chapel Hill. “Some of the differences we’re seeing may be due to atypical symptoms in women.”
Heart attacks occur when blood flow to part of the heart is blocked, often due to a blood clot. according to American Heart AssociationThis can happen when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become thickened with a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances called plaque.
Men and women can have different symptoms of a heart attack, and many of the warning signs people are familiar with — such as severe chest pain — are more common in men. On the other hand, women may experience symptoms such as:
- extreme tiredness
- Intermittent pressure in the chest
- Pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
The study was limited, because the researchers used samples from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC), which looked at 21 hospitals in four states: Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi and North Carolina. The data was extracted from medical records that may have omitted important patient information such as a history of obesity or diabetes, two conditions that Dr. Koji warned are significant factors that increase heart attack risk.
However, the research reveals an ominous trend.
“Women with heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases continue to have disproportionately higher mortality rates than men,” she said. Joseph A. Hill, MD, Ph.D.Editor in Chief Rotationin a press release.
Koji recommends that women educate themselves about heart attack symptoms and treatments and maintain a healthy body weight.
“It’s never too early to start adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle,” she says.