Report calls for more study of racial, gender differences in heart disease symptoms

In a new report updating knowledge of cardiovascular disease symptoms, the American Heart Association highlights the importance race and gender play and calls for further study of these differences.

The association's report was published Aug. 18 in Circulation. Chest pain is the most common symptom of a heart attack in men and women, but women are more likely to also experience nausea, and shoulder and upper back pain, according to the report. Research also shows black people with atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, experience more palpitations, shortness of breath and dizziness compared with white or Hispanic people.

"Many measures of cardiovascular symptoms are based on studies of white men," nurse scientist Christopher Lee, associate dean of research at Boston College and vice chair of the report's writing committee, said in the release. "The report calls for more research on symptoms among different groups."

The report also found mental health, especially levels of depression, can affect a patients' awareness of symptoms and how they report them.

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