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Women delay seeking heart attack help

Wednesday December 12th, 2018

Women with suspected heart attack symptoms to get medical help with no delay.

Dr Matthias Meyer, a cardiologist at Triemli Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland, and colleagues warm that women often wait longer than men because their symptoms are less well-known than men’s symptoms.

Rather than pain in the chest and left arm, women having a heart attack tend to have a similar amount of pain but often in the back, shoulder, or stomach.

In The European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care yesterday (11 December) the experts state that women should call an ambulance immediately, as “every minute counts”.

“Ischaemic heart disease is the leading cause of death in women and men," the authors write, despite the misconception that heart attacks are a man’s problem.

Female patients are on average eight to ten years older than male patients, the researchers say.

The authors studied the effectiveness of interventions to reduce treatment delays in women and men. They examined details of 4,360 patients in Switzerland, over 16 years.

This showed no sex difference in the time to treatment once it was sought - but women waited approximately 37 minutes longer before contacting medical services.

Dr Meyer says: “Women having a heart attack seem to be less likely than men to attribute their symptoms to a condition that requires urgent treatment.”

Meyer, M. R. et al. Gender differences in patient and system delay for primary percutaneous coronary intervention: current trends in a Swiss ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction population. European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care 11 December 2018; doi: 10.1177/2048872618810410

Tags: Europe | Heart Health | Women's Health & Gynaecology

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