Study: Heart attack care alarmingly unequal for women compared to men


new study recently revealed that heart attack care is alarmingly unequal for women when compared to men. Researchers found that many women who have had the most serious type of heart attack − where the coronary artery is completely blocked − don't receive the same tests and treatment that men receive under similar circumstances.

>> Read more trending news 

In the study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers reviewed 180,368 Swedish patients, who had experienced a heart attack between Jan. 1, 2003, and Dec. 31, 2013. During the 10-year span, the results of the study showed that women were three times more likely to die in the year after having a heart attack in comparison to their male counterparts due to lack of treatment. 

It was also reported that women who had a total blockage of an artery, a STEMI, ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction, faced a 34 percent lower chance of receiving the recommended treatments, like stents, than men. Additionally, women were 24 percent less likely to be prescribed statins, which lower the chances of another heart attack, and 14 percent less likely to be given aspirin, which can stop blood clots.

We need to work harder to shift the perception that heart attacks only affect a certain type of person,” said study co-author Chris Gale, of the University of Leeds, United Kingdom, in a statement.

>> Related: Women less likely than men to get CPR from bystanders - and more likely to die - study suggests

Although the risk of heart disease in women has been publicized recently with the help of the American Heart Association's "Go Red" campaign, many women – and healthcare professionals – still may think that the typical heart disease patient is a middle-aged man. As a result, they may fail to see crucial signs that point to the presence of heart disease in women.

If you're a woman, here's what you need to know about protecting your heart:

Realize the risk. 

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S., but women often dismiss symptoms, according to the American Heart Association. They may mistake it for another, less serious illness or stress, and even if they think they may be having a heart attack, some just take an aspirin and never call 911.

Only 13 percent of women in an American Heart Association survey said that heart disease is their greatest personal health risk. Instead, they were more concerned about getting breast cancer, despite the fact that heart disease kills six times more women every year when compared to breast cancer.

>> Related4 questions every woman in her 30s should ask her doctor

Take preventative steps.

The American Heart Association recommends that you make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your individual risk for heart disease. In addition, if you smoke, you should quit, and it also helps to start an exercise program. Even walking for 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk. Eating a healthy diet that's low in saturated fats and processed foods and high in fiber can also improve your heart health.

Risk factors such as increasing high blood pressure during menopause, experiencing depression or high levels of stress or having an autoimmune disease increase a woman's risk of having heart disease, according to John Hopkins Medicine. If these apply to you, you may want to take additional preventative steps.

>> Related: You can avoid strokes and heart attacks with these two household fruits, study says

Learn the warning signs. 

In some cases, warning signs of a heart attack can occur a month or so before the actual event occurs, according to Harvard Medical School. These include unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion, anxiety, a racing heart and a heavy or weak feeling in your arms.

During a heart attack, women may experience the classic crushing chest pain that men often have, but it can also be accompanied by other symptoms that could make you wonder whether you're really having a heart attack. You may even have an absence of obvious chest pain, John Hopkins Medicine said. Women are more likely than men to have symptoms such as back pain, indigestion and shortness of breath. They may also feel weak or dizzy, break out into a cold sweat or feel unusually tired.

>> Related: Got heart disease? You may have a better chance of survival if married


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Nation & World

Royal Wedding: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry wed (live updates)
Royal Wedding: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry wed (live updates)

Actress Meghan Markle and Britain’s Prince Harry got married Saturday in a highly anticipated, star-studded ceremony in St. George’s Chapel at England’s Windsor Castle.  Update 6:21 a.m. EDT Sunday: The British royal family took to Twitter late Saturday to congratulate Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and thank their guests...
'Royal wedding guest name' quiz could help scammers get your personal data
'Royal wedding guest name' quiz could help scammers get your personal data

A seemingly innocent quiz that has been sweeping social media could help scammers get their hands on your personal data, experts say. "What's your royal wedding guest name?" the meme, which began circulating ahead of Saturday's royal wedding, asks. One version reads as follows: "In honor of the royal wedding, use your 'royal wedding...
2 inmates escape Ohio prison, still at large, deputies say
2 inmates escape Ohio prison, still at large, deputies say

Law enforcement is asking for the public’s help to find two Ohio prisoners who escaped Saturday night from the Community Correctional Center in Turtlecreek Township. Deputies from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office responded around 8:30 p.m. to the area of 5234 State Route 63, the CCC, for a report of two men running through a...
Barber throws man who complained about haircut through window
Barber throws man who complained about haircut through window

A man got more than his hair cut, when an argument with the barber over the style led to the man getting thrown through a glass window, police said.  The 33-year old victim was not satisfied with his haircut Thursday and threatened not to pay, according to the New York Daily News. In response, the barber at Levels Barbershop, in Brooklyn...
Dog dies after being left in hot car
Dog dies after being left in hot car

A man is facing animal cruelty charges after he reportedly left a dog in a hot car.  The dog later died despite efforts to rescue him. Anthony Griffith is charged with animal cruelty after the dog was left in a car at Southeast Georgia Health System in St. Marys.  The dog fell to the pavement when an officer arrived and opened the car door...
More Stories