Most women mistake heart attack for fatigue: study


Washington : Most women confuse the symptoms of a heart attack with fatigue, indigestion, stress or over exertion and are, therefore, unable to get timely help, according to a new study.

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Researchers in the US studied 30 women, averaging 48 years, who had suffered a heart attack. They were allowed to recount their experiences in great detail, including symptoms, initial actions (or lack of action) and reasons for not seeking prompt care.

“We found that most failed to connect their symptoms with a heart condition, commonly attributing them to fatigue, indigestion, stress or over-exertion,” said Judith Lichtman of the Yale School of Medicine, a co-author of the study.

Researchers conducted in-depth phone interviews with the women within seven days of their discharge from hospital between October 2006 and May 2007.

The interviews lasted roughly 30 to 40 minutes, and the more open-ended format allowed the young women to describe their experiences in detail, according to Lichtman.

“The stories they told were incredibly rich in detail,” Lichtman said. “We learned that many of these women had no idea that they were at risk for heart disease.”

Many of the women said they didn’t receive prompt care for their symptoms because they called their physician and were given an appointment for soem days later.

“Young women represent less than five percent of all heart patients in the US, but that statistically translates into 16,000 deaths and about 40,000 hospitalisations annually – a number that rivals breast cancer in this age group,” Lichtman said.

These findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Ninth Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research (QCOR) in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke.