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More Women Having Heart Attacks, Study Shows October 27, 2009

For more information, contact Erica Cline at 706/828-2397.

More Women Having Heart Attacks, Research Shows

(AUGUSTA, GA. -- Oct. 27, 2009) Heart attacks appear to have become more common in middle-aged women over the past two decades, but all women and especially those younger than 55 have recently experienced a greater increase than men in their chances of survival following such a heart event, according to two reports in the Oct. 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Middle-aged women have historically had a lower overall risk of heart events and stroke than men of a similar age, according to background information in one of the articles. However, a recent report showing higher stroke rates among women than men in a sample representative of the U.S. population appeared to reveal a new phenomenon and raised the question of whether heart disease or heart attack were also becoming more prevalent among women.

Janet Sewell, a registered nurse with University Hospital’s Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation Center, said the increase might be due to a number of factors.

“Here in Cardiac Rehab, we’re seeing more women smoking, and continuing to smoke, even after a heart disease diagnosis,” she said. “More women are working today and they tend to have a lot of stress in their lives. They’re taking care of everyone else and often forget about themselves.”

Ms. Sewell noted that more women need to be aware of and understand heart attack symptoms so they can react quicker if they have an attack.

“Women’s symptoms are often more vague than what a man would have,” she said. “There’s overwhelming fatigue, nausea, general aches and pains – if they have these symptoms, they need to see a physician immediately.”

Other symptoms include:

  • chest pain or discomfort
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea/vomiting
  • back or jaw pain
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