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Overall men have significantly more heart attacks, but under the age of 55 women are more likely to die from one.
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. 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.
Cathy Ross, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said a heart attack did not necessarily mean dramatic and excruciating chest pains.
"Symptoms vary; for some the pain is severe and yet others may feel nothing more than a mild discomfort or heaviness. The most important thing to remember is if you think you're having a heart attack, call 999.
"Younger women may need to heed that advice more than most because they appear to be less likely to have chest pains.
"Their symptoms can be overlooked by inexperienced medical staff because heart attacks in young women are rare.
"More research will hopefully identify why there are such variations in the way heart disease affects men and women."
Dr Kevin F Fox, a consultant cardiologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and speaking for the Royal College of Physicians, said that overall the number of heart attacks and associated deaths were falling, but that when young women had heart attacks the outcomes were not good.
"The paper has shown that women, and in particular younger women, under 55 years of age, often do not have the typical presenting symptom of chest pain compared to men when they have a heart attack.
"Although heart attack survival is improving overall, doctors, health care professionals and the public need to be aware and vigilant that women can have a heart attack without the typical chest pain that we all think of as the main symptom."
News Source: BBC Health News
News Date: February 2012