Too Young for a Heart Attack? Study finds younger women delay seeking help

Three WomanThe symptoms of a heart attack can happen anywhere, any time and at any age but according to a new study, that doesn’t weigh on the minds of younger women who are ignoring the signs of a heart attack.

The study published in the Journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes found that U.S. women, younger than 55 years old, often inaccurately assess their cardiovascular risk, reported poor preventative health behaviors and delayed seeking medical care for symptoms of a heart attack.

During the study, researchers interviewed women aged 30 to 55 who survived a heart attack and found that many of the women didn’t pay attention to early warning signs of a heart attack such as pain in areas of the upper body (arms, shoulders, back, neck, jaw or stomach), dizziness and nausea/vomiting. For women and men, the most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort but women are more likely to experience some of the other symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.  Several of those same women didn’t receive immediate medical attention or a complete assessment for their symptoms, a formal diagnosis of a heart attack or didn’t take steps to prevent heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, contributing to one in three female deaths every year. Recent trends suggest that heart disease is on the rise, particularly among young females because of multiple risk factors and family history. Seeking immediate medical help is extremely important if you develop heart attack symptoms.

Researchers suggested developing strategies, preferably with your doctor, to empower yourself and other women in your life – regardless of age – to recognize heart attack symptoms and seek immediate medical care. This can be particularly critical for young women at increased risk for heart disease.

Four Healthy Habits That Could Save Your Life

Heart disease is preventable. Work with your doctor to minimize your risk factors.

  • Schedule an appointment with your doctor to learn your risk for heart disease. At the Women’s Center, you get a complete health assessment, a review of your medical records and updated blood work to assess your risk for heart disease.
  • If you’re a smoker, quit smoking. You’ll cut your risk of heart disease by 50 percent within one year after quitting.
  • Exercise. Walking just 30 minutes a day can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Maintain a healthy diet. Visit heart.org for heart healthy recipes.
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