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Women With Heart Attack Symptoms See Delays in Care
Date:1/13/2009

Differences in initial symptoms could explain discrepancy, study suggests

TUESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Women calling 911 with cardiac symptoms took longer than men to get to the hospital after an emergency medical services team had arrived in response to the call, a new study found.

It's not clear why this was the case, but a number of gender differences exist when it comes to heart attacks. In particular, differences in initial symptoms could explain much of this delay, said the authors of the study, which appears in the Jan. 14 issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

"Our data didn't reveal why women were delayed or what happened after, [but] other research suggests that heart conditions in women have a broader spectrum [of symptoms] than men," said study author Thomas Concannon, an assistant professor of medicine at the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. "The patient could not be recognizing the symptoms, and also the clinician."

Concannon said that "future research is absolutely needed to explore delays of this nature, and why they're happening."

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, but many women and even some doctors aren't aware of this. As a result, women often don't recognize a heart attack when they're having one.

"Many symptoms are atypical -- back pain, jaw pain, bilateral arm pain, profuse sweating, nausea and vomiting," said Dr. Daniel I. Simon, director of the Harrington-McLaughlin Heart & Vascular Institute at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. "If someone calls EMS and says they have nausea and vomiting, that's roll-the-eyes-you-have-gastroenteritis, not a heart attack. They're not put on that STEMI [ST segment elevated myocardial infarction] highway, so to speak."

STEMI heart attacks are caused by blocked blood flow to the heart and generally resu
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