Heart Attack Symptoms in Women—Undefined?
Women’s biological issues have become the forefront of several heated political debates on the campaign trail, now news of women’s vulnerability to death from misdiagnosed symptoms of heart attack, posit medical neglect along gender lines. According to recently published studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) “women are less likely to be properly treated, even when they have similar symptoms to men.”
Heart disease has been known for decades as the number one killer of men in the United States, but more and more studies are showing that this statistical claim may be inaccurate. Cam Patterson, Chief of Cardiology at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill remarked that the research “actually may underestimate the gender gap, because many female heart attacks never make it to the hospital.”
The study, authored by John Canto of the Watson Clinic and Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Florida tracked more than 1.1 million patients. In the study,15 percent of female heart attacks die in the hospital compared with 10 percent of men, due mainly to misdiagnosis and inaction to stop heart attacks.
Should doctors be liable for women’s neglect at health care facilities or should their training and medical guidelines take center focus? The same study shows that 42% of women never experience the classic heart attack symptoms, particularly, those women who are younger or premenopausal, compared with 31% of men.
Although numerous campaigns launched over the years have tried to educate women about the symptoms, both women and their doctors have failed to recognize them or the need to seek immediate medical attention.
The classic heart attack symptoms for women under 55 years, according to the American Heart Association are:
Number 1: Shortness of Breath
Number 2: Nausea and vomiting, and gastrointestinal discomfort
Number 3: Light headedness and pain in the back or jaw
Number 4: Crippling fatigue and the sudden need to take a rest
These women face imminent danger from a myocardial infarction (heart attack). Women at risk are: hypertensive, have high cholesterol, are obese, and are diabetics. They should know these numbers and start a health plan:
Number 1: Blood Pressure measure
Number 2: Cholesterol level
Number 3: Blood sugar level
Number 4: Body Mass Index (BMI)
Further, women should speak to their doctors about aspirin control.
Besides knowing what symptoms to expect, a woman should take full control of her own health, limiting the incidence of undefined medical diagnosis as much as possible.