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Younger Women At Risk Of Heart Disease

According to recent American research, heart disease in young women-under 55 is an aggressive disease that has to be dealt with aggressively.

A study presented at the American Heart Association's (AHA) scientific forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke, in Washington, D.C., says that women under the age of 55 often fail to recognize the symptoms of a heart attack until it's too late.

Ignoring those signs, experts say, which can include anything from chest pain to nausea can delay medical care and increase risks for disability and even death.

Says Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of Women & Heart Disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City:"Women of this age range, when they go into the hospital with heart disease or a heart attack, their likelihood of dying from that event is two times that of a man. "Heart disease in young women is a very, very aggressive disease, and it needs to be addressed early and aggressively, she added.

Although women younger than 55 years make up less than 5 percent of all hospitalized heart disease patients, this is still a large number of women, according to the AHA. Young women with heart disease account for about 40,000 hospitalizations each year and 16,000 deaths. The number of younger women who die from coronary heart disease each year is about equivalent to the number of women who die of breast cancer in the same age group, the association stresses.

"Women in this age group may not think they're really at risk, because we mostly hear about older women," says study author Judith Lichtman, an assistant professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale University School of Medicine. "But while it's a relatively smaller group, it's not an insubstantial group."

Focusing only on chest pain could cost lives, experts warn. Other studies have shown that women often have symptoms other than chest pain.

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