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Women, Young Adults Misinterpret Chest Pain: Study

Last Updated: November 06, 2012.

Females also less likely to be told they might have heart disease.

TUESDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Women with chest pain are more likely than men to wait more than a day to seek care, a new study finds.

And, not surprisingly, young adults are less likely than older adults to think that their chest pain may be related to heart problems, the researchers said.

Both women and men sought care because their symptoms persisted, but women were less likely than men to seek care because they suspected heart disease, study author Judith Lichtman of the Yale University School of Public Health and colleagues pointed out in a news release from the American Heart Association.

For the study, the researchers interviewed nearly 3,000 people, aged 18 to 55, who were hospitalized for heart attack in 104 U.S. hospitals between 2008 and 2012. Ninety percent of the men and 87 percent of the women had experienced chest pain, pressure, tightness or discomfort with their heart attack.

The investigators also found that:

  • Symptoms led nearly one-third of women and 20 percent of men to visit their doctor before their heart attack.
  • Women were less likely to recall discussing heart disease with their doctors, or to be told by health-care providers that their symptoms might be related to their heart.
  • Nearly 60 percent of the men and women did not think their symptoms were heart-related. Many women said they believed indigestion, stress or anxiety was the cause, while men cited indigestion or muscle pain.

The study was scheduled for presentation Monday at the American Heart Association's annual scientific meeting in Los Angeles.

The data and conclusions of research presented at meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about heart attack.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 5, 2012


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