Bumrungrad Health Briefs #7: Heart Health Alert: How Men and Women Experience Heart Attacks Differently

BUMRUNGRAD HEALTH BRIEFS #7: Heart Health Alert: How Men and Women Experience Heart Attacks Differently

Heart attacks, medically known as myocardial infarctions, are a leading cause of death worldwide. While it is widely recognized that men are more prone to heart attacks than women, there is a concerning trend: women who experience heart attacks have a higher mortality rate. This discrepancy is largely attributed to differences in symptom recognition and response.

Men typically experience the 'classic' heart attack symptoms: intense chest pain, often described as a feeling of an elephant sitting on the chest, along with pain radiating down the left arm and shortness of breath. These symptoms are well-publicized, leading to quicker recognition and prompt medical intervention.

Women, however, often exhibit atypical symptoms. These can include nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, back or jaw pain, and sometimes mild chest discomfort rather than acute pain. Due to the subtlety of these symptoms, the victim and bystanders may not immediately identify a heart attack, leading to delays in response.

Statistics reinforce this concern. According to the American Heart Association, women are more likely than men to die within a year of having a heart attack. This higher mortality rate in women could be partly due to later recognition and treatment of heart attacks, as well as differences in underlying heart disease and comorbid conditions.

It is crucial for both the public and healthcare providers to recognize that heart attacks can present differently in men and women. Increased awareness and education about these differences can lead to faster and more appropriate responses to heart attacks in women, potentially reducing the mortality gap.

Therefore, while men have a higher incidence of heart attacks, women face greater risks, largely due to differences in symptom presentation and recognition. Addressing this disparity is vital in improving heart attack outcomes for women.

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