Women Chest Pain Often Misdiagnosed in Heart Attacks


Women Chest Pain Often Misdiagnosed in Heart Attacks

Doctors seem to be misdiagnosing women more often when they have chest pain from heart attacks because their symptoms are different from what men experience. Therefore more females are dying. There may be a reason why this is happening.

A study that was recently released shows that there may have been too much made over male/female differences in chest pain, which is the chief heart disease symptoms. Examiners in the study did find a few distinctions, but there were no patterns found that were more typical of women or which could be used to help improve heart attack diagnosis in women.

The report was based on a survey of nearly 800 women and over 1,600 men. It discovered that women actually tended to experience similar types of chest pain as men when they had heart attacks.

But the majority of chest pain symptoms described by women could not be used to tell a heart attack from some other reason of severe chest discomfort.

Physicians stated the research study which is in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, gives further evidence that emergency-room specialists should use tangible heart tests in order to detect heart attacks.

Such tests include the electrocardiogram or EKG, which checks the heart’s electrical action and the cardiac troponin examination, which is a blood test that looks for proteins that are known as troponins which are released when the heart muscle is injured.

However, some doctors stated concern that such findings, while important to physicians, would cause some women to ignore their chest pain that they might otherwise have went to the hospital for.

It has to be stressed over and over if someone is experiencing any type of chest pain; the most important thing to do is get to the hospital as quickly as possible. If any symptoms of a heart attack come on, do not ignore them.

Approximately nine of 10 people who are having a heart attack complain they are having chest discomfort or pain. But there are also numerous other medical problems which cause chest pain, besides heart attacks.

Women are also more likely to have other signs of heart attacks. These include nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and pain located in the neck, jaw or back.

In the survey, the investigators evaluated over 30 different chest pain features in order to correctly determine whether the patient was truly experiencing a heart attack. These included such things as pain location, where the pain was radiating from, what the pain was feeling like and if any movements such as breathing helped to flare up the discomfort.

Although some differences came to light, they were actually too small to support their use in the primary diagnosis of heart attacks in females, stated the researchers.

The study showed that none of the experienced chest pain was helpful in distinguishing heart attacks from various other chest discomfort. If a woman experiences chest pain, it is very hard to conclude if that chest pain is her heart or not.


By Kimberly Ruble

The NY Times

Live Science News

U.S. News and World Report


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