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Some women more likely to miss or ignore heart attack warning signs
Date:5/2/2008

Many women under age 55 arent seeking timely treatment for heart attack because they expect the warning signs and their reaction to follow a Hollywood script tightening in the chest, shortness of breath, clutching the chest while dropping to one knee.

Thats the finding of researchers who presented their study at the American Heart Associations 9th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research (QCOR) in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke.

Researchers studied 30 women who had suffered a heart attack (average age 48). The young women were allowed to talk about their experiences in great detail, using their own words to describe their recognition of symptoms, their initial actions (or lack of action), and their reasons for not seeking prompt care.

We found that most failed to connect their symptoms with a heart condition, commonly misattributing them to fatigue, indigestion, stress or overexertion, said Judith Lichtman, Ph.D., lead author of the study and associate professor of epidemiology and public health at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.

Researchers conducted in-depth telephone interviews with the women within seven days of their hospital discharges for heart attacks between October 2006 and May 2007. The interviews explored the womens initial recognition and response to symptoms, their healthcare beliefs and their acute healthcare experiences. Lichtman said the interviews lasted roughly 30 to 40 minutes, and the more open-ended format allowed the young women to describe their experiences in detail.

The stories they told were incredibly rich in detail, Lichtman said. We learned that many of these women had no idea that they were at risk for heart disease and were unaware that their symptoms could be connected with a heart problem, citing the lack of good examples in the public media to help them recognize atypical symptoms, or realize that someone their age could even be at risk for a h
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Contact: Karen Astle
karen.astle@heart.org
214-706-1392
American Heart Association
Source:Eurekalert

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