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Men vs. Women: Confusion Over Heart Symptoms

Mistaken Beliefs About Heart Attack Symptoms Can Delay Critical Care

How Men and Women Describe Their Symptoms

Here's how the participants described their heart attack symptoms:

  • Pain, shortness of breath, fatigue. No gender differences
  • Right-side chest discomfort. 4.7 times more likely to be reported by men
  • Throat discomfort. 12 times more likely to be reported by women
  • Discomfort. 2.7 times more likely to be reported by men
  • Dull ache. 3.9 times more likely to be reported by men
  • Pressing on the chest. 7.3 times more likely to be reported by women
  • Vomiting. 3.9 times more likely to be reported by women
  • Indigestion. 3.7 times more likely to be reported by men

Men were also five times more likely than women to recognize their symptoms as being related to their heart, say the researchers.

Every Minute Counts During Heart Attack

Participants didn't pick up the phone and call 911 right away when they noticed those symptoms. Both men and women delayed seeking medical help for hours.

Men took about three hours, on average, before seeking help. Women waited even longer -- four hours, on average.

Of course, that's extremely dangerous. It's vital to get help at the first sign of a heart attack. Don't wait, even if you're not sure what's going on; let doctors figure that out.

Time can make the difference between life and death. Almost half of cardiac deaths in 1999 happened before emergency services and hospital treatment could be administered, says the CDC.

"Educating both genders of the full constellation of symptoms of [heart attack] will help men and women recognize their symptoms sooner as cardiac related," say the researchers.

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