MYTHBUSTER: Study shows women have same risks for heart attacks as men

The study showed 93% of both men AND women reported the most common symptom: chest pain.

Fred Bodimer
August 23, 2019 - 4:46 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — An important new study about women and heart attacks.   

For years, medical experts have said that women tend to have different heart attack symptoms than men.

"And this study found that that is actually not true," said SLUCare cardiologist Dr. Michael Lim at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital. "Women are just as frequently -- if not in this particular population -- more frequently presenting with chest pain as the sign of their heart attacks than men."
This four-year study of heart attack patients in Scotland found 93-percent of both men AND women reported the most common symptom -- chest pain.  And about half of all men and women reported pain down their left arm.

"The first generalization was it is possible that women present with other symptoms -- but that doesn't exclude the fact that women can't present with the same symptoms," Dr. Lim tells KMOX.  "And so we just need to be cognisant of this and if women or men have sudden onsets of chest pain, chest pressure, chest tightness -- especially when it's associated with shortness of breath, feeling sick to the stomach, or just really not feeling well -- this could be a heart attack and this demands prompt attention."

So what does Dr. Lim tell his female patients?

"I would tell you if you have these typical symptoms -- whether you are a man or a woman -- I'm very concerned about you having a heart attack," said Dr. Lim.  "But I also need to make sure that you know that a heart attack could have a broader group of symptoms -- like a sudden onset of shortness of breath, or a sudden onset of just not feeling well but no real specific symptoms -- it's just kind of vague -- or signs of fatigue.  These could be markers of heart attacks in women too."
The bottom line for Dr. Lim?
 "If you have the typical chest pain type symptoms, it's absolutely a heart attack -- until it is proven not to be a heart attack." 

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