Women and Heart Attacks

November 12, 2012

Women and Heart Attacks

A study carried out by the Journal of American Medical Association, JAMA, has just carried out one of the largest studies into gender differences and heart attacks in recent years. Researchers looked at the records of over 1 million heart attack cases looking for gender differences. Their conclusions about women and heart attacks are enlightening:

  • 42% of women didn’t feel crushing chest pain

  • 15% of women died from a heart attack

  • Older women are more at risk

  • 31% of men felt a crushing chest pain

  • 10% of men died from a heart attack

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack occurs when the muscles in your heart do not receive enough oxygen, which can be as a result of blocked arteries or a blood clot. Angina can also feel like a heart attack as you will feel shortness of breath and heart muscle pain. Angina can cause a heart attack if untreated, so it is important to visit your doctor and obtain the appropriate medication.


  • Sweating

  • Nausea

  • Stomach pain

  • Feeling weak

  • Jaw Pain

  • Shortness of breath

Therefore women need to recognise that there are other signs of a heart attack such as back pain, nausea, shortness of breath or jaw pain, so that they are able to get medical attention quickly.

What shall I do if I think I’m having a heart attack?

The first thing to do is ring the emergency services and then if you can crush or chew on an asprin with some water. Getting to a hospital quickly will increase your chances of survival.

Is age a risk?

After the menopause the protection of Estrogen falls, making older women more vulnerable, although it has been shown that if a younger woman does have a heart attack it is usually more severe.

What is Ischemia?

Ischemia is known as the silent heart attack and effects post menopausal women, or those who have a history of heart problems in their family and have lost a sister or mother before the age of 65 or a father or brother before the age of 55.

Will regular check-ups help?

All women with a history of heart problems in their family should have an annual check-up which also includes a blood test for high cholesterol.

There is still a lot of research to be done on the subject as there are still a lot of unanswered questions, but this important study has highlighted the fact the differences do exist between male and female heart attack symptoms and that women should make sure that they have regular health checks and that they are aware of these differences. Women must learn to look after themselves by putting themselves first as far as their health is concerned.

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