“Heart attack symptoms differ in women,” BBC News has today reported. The broadcaster says that women having a heart attack are less likely to experience chest pain, compared with men.
A heart attack can cause a range of different symptoms, from crushing chest pains to tingling in the limbs, and feelings of breathlessness or nausea. Given the variations in possible symptoms, US researchers set out to examine just how common chest pain and discomfort is for each gender, and whether it indicate an increased risk that a patient might die. To do so, they examined records on more than 1 million US men and women who suffered from a heart attack between 1994 and 2006. The researchers looked for links between gender, symptoms and death rates.
Overall, 42% of men with a heart attack reported chest pain, compared with 30.7% of women. Further calculations revealed that the younger a woman was, the higher the chance she would not experience chest pain.
The results from this large pool of subjects helps demonstrate that although we perceive chest pain to be the key symptom of a heart attack, it isn't always present. People may also experience any combination of symptoms without any pain at all, such as shortness of breath, sweating and nausea. Although the study suggests that a heart attack without any pain (in the chest, arm, neck or jaw) may be slightly more common in women than men, raising awareness of the different possible signs of a heart attack is important for both sexes, so that when a heart attack is suspected people can receive emergency medical assistance as quickly as possible.