Most women 55 years and younger who have heart attacks don't recognize warning signs, researchers reported at the American Heart Association's 8th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke.
Women younger than 55 years represent less than 5 percent of all hospitalized heart disease patients, but because so many heart attacks occur in the United State each year, even this small percentage affects a large number of people. Young women with heart disease account for about 40,000 hospitalizations each year. Diseases of the heart in young women account for about 16,000 deaths annually, ranking it among the leading causes of death in this group, according to authors.
"The number of young women who die from coronary heart disease each year is roughly comparable to the number of women who die of breast cancer in this age group," said Judith Lichtman, Ph.D., lead author of the study. "Studies have shown that young women with heart disease are twice as likely to die in the hospital as similarly aged men. While these statistics are startling, relatively little is known about the clinical presentation, care or outcomes of young women with heart disease."
In a pilot study, Lichtman and colleagues studied 24 women (55 and younger) who had heart attacks and were admitted to one of two Connecticut hospitals. The researchers asked them about their symptoms before the heart attack and whether they recognized or understood that they were at risk for heart disease.
Nearly 90 percent of the women in the study had the typical heart attack symptom of chest pain, with 7.4 being the average rating of their chest pain on a scale of one to 10 (with 10 being the most painful).
"This means that they were experiencing significant chest pain," said Lichtman, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. Researchers said they were surprised that only 42 percent, or four in 10, of the women who came into the hospital thought something was wrong with their hearts. "Many of them told us that they thought they had indigestion or heartburn," Lichtman said.
The women also reported other less typical symptoms:
58 percent said they had pain in the jaw or shoulder
38 percent reported sweating
29 percent experienced nausea
29 percent reported shortness of breath
21 percent said they had indigestion or heartburn
8 percent felt weakness or fatigue
Only about half of the women went to an emergency room within the first hour of their symptoms.
"When we asked the women why they delayed going to the hospital, half of those who waited more than an hour said they were afraid their symptoms weren't real; about 42 percent attributed their symptoms to something else; about 17 percent said they were embarrassed by their symptoms; and 8 percent admitted that they feared the symptoms or experienced denial that it could be heart disease," Lichtman said.
The researchers also found that about 88 percent of the women had a family history (a parent or sibling) with heart disease. Even though 71 percent said their health was fair/poor, less than half considered themselves at risk for heart disease.
The researchers said doctors may be failing to link many young women's symptoms to heart disease. Prior to their heart attacks, 38 percent saw their primary providers for some or all of their symptoms; yet, only 56 percent of those women said their doctors told them their symptoms were heart-related.
"It seems that many young women are not connecting their symptoms with heart disease, even more are simply unaware of the possibility that they are at risk for a heart attack," Lichtman said. "We have to get the messages across to young women that they are at risk for a heart attack, they might experience not only typical but also atypical symptoms, and they need to be aware of their own risk factors, including family history. Prevention and modification of risk factors is important for young women. "
To avoid possible permanent damage to the heart muscle, young women, like their older counterparts, must seek prompt care if they have symptoms. They also must be persistent with their health providers — especially if they have risk factors, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, inactivity, diabetes and family history, Lichtman said.
Karen Astle | EurekAlert!
Laser activated gold pyramids could deliver drugs, DNA into cells without harm
24.03.2017 | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
What does congenital Zika syndrome look like?
24.03.2017 | University of California - San Diego
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy