Women may not have chest pain with heart attack

New study: Higher percentage of women than men present without it

A new Canadian study finds chest pain is still the telltale sign of a heart attack, but a higher percentage of women than men present without it.  Dr. David Frid did not take part in the study but is a cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic.

"Most people, whether they're men or women, do present with chest pain and we've always known that that's the most common symptom, but what they also found is that women were more likely to present with non-chest pain-type symptoms compared to men," he explained.

University of British Columbia researchers looked at more than 1,000 people age 55 and younger.  They found chest pain to be reported in about 80 percent of all cases of acute coronary syndrome, where blood supply to the heart is suddenly blocked, like a heart attack or unstable angina.

But it turns out more women than men do not experience chest pain at all, and in fact, have fewer symptoms in general.

"Fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, sometimes shoulder pain, or arm pain, sometimes back pain. So, they are symptoms we often associate with somebody having a problem with their heart, but not having that classic chest-type discomfort," explained Frid.

Researchers say people who do not report chest pain are more likely to be misdiagnosed in the emergency department.  Frid says a lot can be learned from these results.   

"The importance of a study like this is to make both the person or individual aware of what they should be doing or looking for and making the physician aware of how they should be potentially evaluating a patient who comes with something that is somewhat atypical," said Frid.

Complete findings for this study can be found in Jama Internal Medicine.

Heart Walk 2013

Heart disease is the number one health threat to Americans and stroke is number four.  And coming up Saturday, September 21st at Metropolitan Park, it's the American Heart Association's annual Heart Walk.  The purpose is to help raise awareness as well as  money for critical research, education and community programs to help combat heart disease and stroke.

Activities begin at 8am and the walk starts at 9am.  This year, you can bring your pet to walk with you.  The walk is free for everyone but if you fundraise a minimum of $100,  you get a Heart Walk T-Shirt.

Channel 4 is a proud sponsor of the Heart Walk.  For more information go to www.FirstCoastHeartWalk.kintera.org.