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

eart problem. We also learned much more about their experiences with the healthcare system in terms of preventive care and the care they received during the acute presentation.

Lichtman noted many of the women were surprised that their actual symptoms differed from the Hollywood heart attack that they would have expected. They wish that they had known that symptoms such as neck and shoulder pain, abdominal discomfort that was easy to mistake for indigestion, or unusual fatigue could signal a heart problem, she said. They often said that TV doesnt show examples of the symptoms they experienced. If they knew, they would have responded to the symptoms sooner.

The participants described a complex internal dialogue as they decided when to engage the healthcare system and identified an array of factors that contributed to delays, ranging from:

  • Uncertainty

  • Preference to self-medicate

  • Perceived negative treatment by healthcare providers

  • Competing time/family demands

  • Individual beliefs and behaviors to health system failures

  • Seeking corroboration of symptoms and deferring responsibility to engage the healthcare system

Many of the women said they didnt receive prompt care for their symptoms because they called their physician and were given an appointment within a few days. Some of those who went to the emergency room said they experienced long delays there because they were thought to have non-cardiac conditions.

While this was certainly not the experience for all women, repeated stories of being triaged to less urgent care initially for what were thought to be non-cardiac conditions suggest that additional work is needed to help young women, their families and healthcare providers recognize that young women with heart disease may present with typical and atypical symptoms, Lichtman said. There are large gaps in our understanding of the symptoms young wom
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Contact: Karen Astle
karen.astle@heart.org
214-706-1392
American Heart Association
Source:Eurekalert

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