Women are more likely to miss a potentially fatal heart attack diagnosis because their symptoms are more subtle than men’s, leading cardiologist warns
- Signs women have heart disease tend to be more subtle than men, causing them to be missed
- Early diagnosis of heart disease can lead to faster medical intervention, prolonging a person’s life
- Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans, killing one in five American women
- Many cardiologists admit to inability to properly address women’s cardiovascular health
Key signs that women have heart disease or will soon suffer from potentially fatal cardiovascular problems are often overlooked because they are more subtle than men, leading cardiologists have warned.
A report published by the American Heart Association (AHA) warns that women are often diagnosed with heart disease later than men, despite no evidence that they actually develop heart disease later in life. This means they may be in a worse state and start treatment in a more degenerated state.
Often overlooked symptoms of heart disease include the ability to walk for short periods of time and occasional difficulty breathing. Experts from the American Heart Association also warn that some symptoms that women may soon develop a heart attack, stroke, heart failure or other potentially deadly conditions are also often overlooked.
Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans and has maintained a dubious title during the COVID-19 pandemic. While women are generally more concerned about breast cancer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns that women are just as likely to die from breast cancer as men.
Although heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S., signs that women are suffering are often overlooked and ignored by doctors, experts warn (file photo)
Report author Dr. Corrine Jurgens, a professor of nursing at Boston College, told TODAY that “symptoms often appear in clusters … very few people have just one symptom.”
Experts say doctors often look for specific patterns when preparing to make a diagnosis.
Mississippi residents have a 50% higher death rate than anyone else in the U.S. and 7 times higher than Minnesota
Mississippi has the highest heart failure rate in the U.S. — seven times the annual death rate than any other state.
From 1999 to 2019, Mississippi averaged 7.98 heart failure deaths per 100,000 population, the worst death rate in the U.S. by far, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic and Emory University found.
Magnolia’s eastern neighbor, Alabama, came in second at 5.24 per 100,000 people, a much lower figure. Minnesota had the lowest rate of heart failure at 1.09 per 100,000 people, or just 13% of Mississippi’s total.
Health officials have long known that the increase in cardiovascular disease rates in the South, with poor diets, sedentary lifestyles, and higher rates of poverty, is believed to be wrong. The top 10 states for heart disease deaths are all in the southern United States.
The researchers, who published their findings Wednesday in JAMA Cardiology, collected information on 61,729 heart failure-related deaths that occurred in the United States between 1999 and 2019.
They then adjusted the data for age, so the older population, who are naturally more susceptible to such diseases, did not weigh down the data.
Mississippi was found to be the far and away leader, and problem experts have been warning for years.
Mississippi has highest heart failure rate in U.S.
For heart disease, key signs include a change in the ability to breathe fully or the inability to function fully.
However, doctors can be slow to recognize these symptoms in women. This greatly increases their risk of dying from the disease.
Once a person learns they have heart disease, they can start making lifestyle changes and taking medications that help slow the progression of the disease.
While there is no known cure, a person can greatly extend their lifespan after a heart attack is diagnosed through medical intervention.
Providence Health writes: “Early intervention often creates the best chance of a successful outcome, and early detection that addresses the problem before symptoms appear is a potential lifesaver.”
There are also some early warning signs that a person could soon develop a heart-related condition, even if it could kill them — although women’s symptoms differ from men’s and may be overlooked or ignored.
Women who have a heart attack often experience nausea, dizziness, fatigue and cold sweats before the event, experts warn.
Before a stroke, women suffer from severe headaches and altered mental status, while men usually cause a stroke.
Heart failure typically accumulates for several weeks before reaching a tipping point that requires hospitalization.
Before activity, women often start to sweat, experience unusual swelling around their bodies, and experience unexpected heartburn.
During the period leading to heart failure, women may also experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, which may lead to confusion or strange behavior.
The sooner these symptoms are recognized as an underlying cardiovascular problem, the sooner doctors can intervene with potentially life-saving medical care.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that about 20 percent of American women will die from heart failure, outpacing other, more commonly talked about dangers, such as breast cancer.
Many reported that women’s medical symptoms are often not taken as seriously as men, a problem that can have fatal consequences.
While heart disease is the number one killer of women in the U.S., a survey found that only one in five primary care physicians and 42 percent of cardiologists believe they can properly assess a woman’s heart health.
A 2018 UK study found that doctors failing to detect heart attacks in women caused women to die more than men.