Many women unaware of heart disease signs

Feb. 5, 2010 at 5:46 PM
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DALLAS, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- More than 430,000 U.S. women die each year of heart disease, but many women are unfamiliar with signs, U.S. researchers say.

To better spot cardiovascular disease Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas began a new Heart & Vascular Wellness Program for women including a detailed heart health history, blood pressure check, HbA1C and C-reactive protein blood test, cholesterol and diabetes screenings, and one-on-one discussions with a medical provider

The signs and symptoms of female heart disease can be dramatically different from classic symptoms of heart attack typically seen in men, cardiologist Dr. Khanh Hoang, co-medical director of program, said.

"Women with heart disease may experience symptoms which are more vague, such as indigestion, or sudden fatigue and weakness," Hoang said in a statement. "Since these are things many people experience, it's difficult to immediately spot the heart attack."

Research shows 95 percent of women who had suffered heart attacks said they experienced symptoms a month or more before experiencing their heart attack, Hoang said. The symptoms most commonly reported were unusual fatigue, sleep disturbance, and shortness of breath, the researchers said.

Additionally, fewer than 30 percent reported having chest pain or discomfort immediately prior to the heart attack, and 43 percent reported having no chest pain at all, the researchers said.

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