Physicians tend to dismiss heart attack symptoms in young women: 7 things to know

When young women seek care for heart attack symptoms, physicians are more likely to dismiss these symptoms as unrelated to heart issues, according to a study published in Circulation.

The study authors analyzed data from 2,009 women and 976 men ages 18 to 55. These patients had been admitted to a U.S. hospital for having an acute heart attack between August 2008 and January 2012. The study included 103 hospitals nationwide.

Here are seven things to know about the study.

1. Approximately 22 percent of men and 29 percent of women said they sought medical care for their symptoms before they were hospitalized.

2. Of those women, 53 percent reported their physicians did not think their symptoms were heart-related, compared to 37 percent of those men.

3. The women in the study were more likely to have a history of congestive heart failure, diabetes, obesity, stroke, chronic kidney disease and chronic lung disease than the men in the study.

4. Nearly two-thirds of the women and men said they sought care because they experienced persistent symptoms. Over half of them said the pain was too severe to ignore, the study authors noted.

5. Eighty-seven percent of women and roughly 89 percent of men said they experienced chest pain.

6. The majority of women — about 61 percent — said they had at least three symptoms not associated with chest pain, compared to roughly 54 percent of men.

7.  The authors noted the study was limited because it was based on self-reports of how women and men recalled their symptoms and interactions with physicians. 

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