For many decades, myocardial infarction (heart attack) studies, risks, and information were directed at men, because they were the gender being studied. It wasn’t that women weren’t having heart attacks — the problem was that because it was widely thought to be a “man’s issue” by both medical personnel and laypeople (people in the community without medical degrees), it was frequently unrecognized. Which means, women were having heart attacks and often dying of heart attacks, but the exact rate of this occurring during those years were difficult to say, because they were said to have died of erroneous things, such as “gallbladder complications” or some other unrelated illness. It was simply not considered common for women to have heart attacks.
To a certain extent, that was true, when you consider the physical and psychological characteristics of the female demographic in the United States in generations past. The female was less likely to be obese than she is now, less likely to have other diseases that can affect heart disease, such as diabetes, insulin resistance, hypertension, and stimulant addiction. These things were, at one point, more prevalent in men, but that gap has closed, and the modern research on heart disease in women says it is not only prevalent in women, women are more likely to die of heart attack than men — because they themselves and their medical caregivers are less likely to recognize symptoms, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.
What are heart attack symptoms that everyone should know? Of course, chest pain. But the problem remains that many people, particularly women, do not experience this symptom, or perhaps not with the intensity they believe they should, so it is overlooked. Sometimes, a heart attack has no easily recognizable symptoms, a condition known as “silent ischemia” in which the heart suffers a blockage that causes it to lose oxygen and parts of it may die, leading to serious consequences, but there are no symptoms that one can easily recognize. It may be as vague as an “upset stomach,” back pain, tiredness, shortness of breath when climbing a hill — things that many people are likely to not relate to heart problems.
Fox News reported on the continuing problem of women with heart problems not being treated as aggressively as men. Brigham and Womens’ Hospital continues to study this phenomenon, with two major studies this year. The first study focused on adults, both male and female, up to age 55 and found only about half believed they were at risk for a heart attack before they had one, likely because they considered themselves “too young for a heart attack.” The studies found that women, however, were eleven percent less likely to be told about hear attack risk by doctors and had 16 percent lower odds of being taught how to minimize their risk, which means it continues to be medical professionals who do not recognize, nor communicate the risk, or how to mitigate the risk. These two factors together can result in deadly complications for women.
“Despite years of educational efforts, there is still a perception of heart attack as a ‘man’s’ disease,” said author and lead researcher of the second study, Dr. Deepak Bhatt of Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Center in Boston.
“Women, their families and hospitals all need greater awareness that heart attacks do occur in middle-aged women, and that getting to the emergency room via an ambulance is the best way to ensure timely care, which most often includes angioplasty and stenting.”
Women are advised to be proactive in their care, asking their physicians about heart attack risk and educating themselves about signs and symptoms of heart trouble, according to Science Daily. While the medical community has come a long way in treating women’s cardiovascular problems, it still has a long way to go, and women themselves need to find physicians who are interested and up to date about female cardiovascular issues.
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