Feb 11, 2010
There is a commonly held belief that heart disease falls low on the list of causes of death and disability in women. Far from the truth-the following article from the NY Times addressess some of that misperception by the public
Mention the term "heart attack" and most people imagine a pudgy, middle-aged man drenched in sweat and clutching his chest. Few people seem to consider cardiovascular disease (CVD) as a woman's disease.
But according to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading killer of women over age 25. It kills nearly twice as many women in the United States than all types of cancer, including breast cancer. Only 13 percent of women think heart disease is a threat to their health.
The misleading notion that heart disease is not a real problem for women can be blamed in part on medical research. For a very long time, heart disease studies have focused primarily on men. Changes are under way, but some doctors still fail to recognize the warning signs displayed by female patients.
EARLY HEART SIGNS
Studies have shown that women may have undiagnosed warning signs weeks, months, and even years before having a heart attack.
Significant differences may exist in the symptoms displayed by women and men. Men typically experience the "classic" heart attack signs: tightness in the chest, arm pain, and shortness of breath. Women's symptoms may resemble those of men, but on occasion nausea, an overwhelming fatigue, and dizziness are the main symptoms and are ignored or chalked up to stress. Women have reported that they have had a hard time getting their doctors to listen to them about these early warning symptoms.
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