Heart Attacks Affect Men & Women Differently

POSTED BY: Emily Baird
Tuesday, March 2, 2010 - 11:41 AM
Heart Attack Differences

Knowing the warning signs of a heart attack and how you should react can save someone's life, but are you aware that heart attacks affect men and women differently?

"1 in 5 women right now are unaware that heart disease is their greatest health risk, and it's claiming the lives of 1 in 3, " says American Heart Association communication director, Brianne Harman.

So why are women left in the dark when it comes to this issue?

"There's been a long standing stereotype that heart disease is an old man's disease. You know, that old movie when the man has the crushing pain on his chest. Warning signs can be more subtle in women, " says Harman.

When men have heart attacks, they typically experience the following symptoms: tightness in the chest, breaking out in a cold sweat, and numbness in the left arm, but women have more a-typical symptoms.

"Like shortness of breath, dizziness, weakness, or pain in the upper back, " says cardiologist Abdul Hay Albirini.

In fact, many women have heart attacks that go unrecognized because of these symptoms, which is why heart attacks are so serious among women.

"They usually have a higher mortality rate, and they are more likely to develop heart failure after a heart attack, " says Albirini.

After a heart attack, medical professional use different treatments in women than they do in men because of these different symptoms. They do not know the exact cause for this differentiation, but they do note one factor that could be contributing to it.

"Women tend to have more small vessel disease in the coronary arteries and more endotermia dysfunction. (They have) microvascular disease that disease in the larger vessel that we have in men, " says Albirini.

The American Heart Association works diligently on its "Go Red" campaign for women during the month of February. It has one staggering statistic that it hopes will wake women up and make them realize how serious heart disease is.

"More women die from heart disease than all forms of cancer combined, " says Harman.


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