Heart attack symptoms ‘differ in women’

Fewer women than men suffering from a heart attack appear to experience chest pain symptoms, according to a study of more than one million people in the US.Overall men have significantly more heart attacks, but under the age of 55 women are more likely to die from one.Without displaying the classic chest pain symptoms of a heart attack, researchers say some women may not be getting the right kind of treatment.

The study looked at patients seen at more than 1,000 hospitals. The research found that among younger women – those aged under 55 – the differences in symptoms with men of the same age were striking.

Overall, 42% of women did not experience chest pain compared with 30% of men.And once admitted, the study found that women were more likely to die than men from the same age group.

The authors, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said: “Optimal recognition and timely management of myocardial infarction (MI), especially for reducing patient delay in seeking acute medical care, is critical. “The presence of chest pain/discomfort is the hallmark symptom of MI.

“Patients without chest pain/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 of MI.”Heart attacks among younger women are relatively rare.

In fact the average age of women admitted to hospital in the study was 74, compared with 67 for men.Cathy Ross, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said a heart attack did not necessarily mean dramatic and excruciating chest pains.

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