Heart attacks: All hearts are not created equal

  • Published
  • By Diane Mayer
  • TriWest Healthcare Alliance
Many may have heard heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, yet few people know that women are less likely to survive heart attacks than men. 

According to the American Heart Association's website, www.americanheart.org,38 percent of women will die within one year after a heart attack, while only 25 percent of men will die within one year of a heart attack.

Despite these facts, many women believe that heart disease is not a real problem.

In fact, a study by the American Heart Association revealed only 13 percent of American women know heart disease and stroke are their greatest health threats, demonstrating the lack of knowledge and understanding most women have for their most serious health threat. In addition to this, minority women face the highest risk of death from heart disease and stroke but have a lower awareness of their risk factors.

For both men and women, the most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. However, women are more likely than men to experience other common symptoms including shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain. Women are also prone to wait longer than men in seeking help for a possible heart attack.

This is often because women don't want to bother or worry others, or believe their symptoms to be a false alarm. However, when facing something as serious as a heart attack, it is better to be safe than sorry.

In fact, most hospitals have clot-busting medicines and other artery-opening treatments and procedures that stop heart attacks if given within the first hour after a heart attack starts. These treatments alone make immediate care for a suspected heart attack even more vital.

Women are also advised to speak-up when they go to hospital if they have experienced any of the symptoms listed above. This allows thorough testing and examination for a possible heart attack. After all, the best way to survive a heart attack is preventing having one in the first place. 

For more information on heart disease visit the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute at www.nhlbi.nih.gov or www.triwest.com and select beneficiary and then healthy living.