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Higher mortality for younger women experiencing a heart attack without chest pain.

Posted Feb 22 2012 4:27pm

The Journal of the American Medical Association published in the February issue that women who are hospitalized for a heart attack are less likely to experience chest pain and are more likely to die then men the same age, researchers said. The analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association is the largest to examine the relationship among gender, age and chest pain when it comes to death from heart disease, the leading killer worldwide. Chest pain is the hallmark symptom of a heart attack, according to researchers who suggested its absence might help explain women’s increased risk.

The study examined the records of 1.1 million Americans from 1994 to 2006 in the National Registry of Myocardial Infarction, the largest database of heart-attack patients in the world. Forty-two percent of women reported no chest pain when they were hospitalized for a heart attack, known medically as a myocardial infarction, compared with 30.7 percent of men. Almost 15 percent of the women died, compared with 10 percent of men.

“Our data suggest that the absence of chest pain is associated with increased mortality, especially among younger women,” said the researchers, led by John Canto, from the Watson Clinic and Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Florida. “Patients without chest pain and discomfort tend to present later, are treated less aggressively and have almost twice the short-term mortality compared with those presenting with more typical symptoms.” Also stated, the risk of dying in the hospital for women who weren’t experiencing chest pain decreased with age, as the oldest women were less likely to die than men the same age who also weren’t suffering the tell-tale signs of a heart attack.

The National Institute of Health reports more than one million Americans suffer a heart attack each year, more than half die. It’s critical to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack but also to keep in mind classic chest pain may or may not be present especially in younger women.

Take home message for women and those who love them, heart attack symptoms in women are different than men, not always presenting with classic sub-sternal chest pain. Women will experience upper back pain, neck pain, nausea or indigestion and fatigue. Unfortunately with the multiple roles women play today at work and home it is easy to understand how a heart attack could go undiagnosed. It is critical for women to be aware of there risks and symptoms of heart disease, most importantly to take personal responsibility for their health.

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