When it comes to your ticker, seeking help the moment you start experiencing heart attack symptoms is absolutely crucial. That's why it's so scary to learn that men receive medical treatment sooner than women for heart attacks, according to a new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
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For the study, researchers analyzed cases of 1,123 patients at hospitals for acute coronary syndrome (any condition classified by sudden, reduced blood flow to the heartÃ¢â‚¬”like a heart attack). They measured to see how long it took men and women to receive medical treatment, using benchmark time intervals recommended by the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology. The results? Only 29 percent of women had an electrocardiography (ECG) performed within 10 minutes of being admitted, while 38 percent men had ECGs within this time frame. More so, 32 percent of women received fibrinolytic therapy (medication that breaks up blood clots in arteries to allow blood flow) within 30 minutes compared to 59 percent of men. Luckily, there was no statistical difference between the time it took men and women to get primary percutaneous intervention (a non-surgical procedure to open a closed artery), which both should have within 90 minutes. Unfortunately, previous studies have shown that failing to meet these benchmark times is associated with an increased risk of death, say study authors.
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So what's going on here? Don't blame it on favoritism: Fewer than half of both men and women underwent those procedures within the recommended time frames, say study authors. And as for the gender disparities, men may show more traditional heart attack symptoms than women (for instance, women were less likely to exhibit chest pain than men), which may signal a higher priority for a hospital's staff, according to the study.
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However, there are so many subtle signs of an impending heart attack that don't involve clutching your chest. Nausea, back pain, vomiting, jaw pain, and palpitations can all indicate trouble with your ticker, and it's crucial that you're aware of these symptoms and other risk factors such as blood pressure and cholesterol, says Suzanne Steinbaum, D.O., the director of women's heart health at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who was not part of the study. The more you understand your health risks and the signs of a heart attack, the better you'll be at communicating with a doctor about your ailments so you can get the treatment you need on time.
And since heart disease is a woman's number one health risk, it's vital to know everything you can about yours. Get more information about your heart health right here.
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