Magazine article USA TODAY

Warning Signs Differ in Women

Magazine article USA TODAY

Warning Signs Differ in Women

Article excerpt

A study of women's symptoms prior to heart attack indicates that about 95% say they knew their symptoms were new or different a month or more before experiencing their Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI). This was true even when the precursors were common ones and varied in severity. Notably, fewer than 30% reported chest pain and discomfort prior to AMI, and 43% did not experience chest pain during AMI. Most clinicians continue to consider chest pain as the most important symptom for both women and men.

Recognition of warning signs that provide an early indication of heart attack, either imminently or in the near future, is critical to forestalling or preventing the disease.

"Symptoms such as indigestion, sleep disturbances, or weakness in the arms, which many of us experience on a daily basis, were recognized by many women in the study as warning signals for AMI," reports Jean McSweeney, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock.

"Because there was considerable variability in the frequency and severity of symptoms, we need to know at what point these symptoms help us predict a cardiac event. …

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