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Women More Likely to Die from Heart Attacks

Eva Pilgrim, WXIN-TV, Indianapolis

Posted March 16, 2012

A new study out of Florida finds women are less likely to get immediate treatment for heart attacks and are more likely to die in the hospital than men.

The Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Florida tracked 1.1 million patients. Women had a 15 percent chance of dying of a heart attack in the hospital compared to men's 10 percent. One of the reasons for the higher numbers among women, 42 percent of women never experienced the classic heart attack symptom of chest pain or pressure.

"Women often present with suddenly feeling tired, fatigue, nausea, reduced exercise tolerance, rather vague," said Dr. Ed Fry, cardiologist at St. Vincent Heart Center.

Dr. Fry said one of the reasons for the different symptoms is because women have smaller blood vessels than men. It's something he and his colleagues are studying at St. Vincent's Heart Center.

Cynthia Haverstick is a heart attack survivor. She said her symptoms weren't very clear.

"I wouldn't be able to breathe properly, I would tire easily, I had trouble lifting things. I just figured it was me and it would go away eventually."

Haverstick said it all hit her what was going on. In May 2010, it was confirmed.

"Once I realized what was going on and I got to the hospital, they confirmed I had a heart attack."

Dr. Fry said it's important to talk to your primary care doctor and know your own risks. There are things you can do right now to help. Know your family history, exercise and watch your weight. Know your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and if you're pre-diabetic or diabetic. Most importantly, he said you shouldn't smoke and if you do, quit.

"We know smoking is one of the most serious risk factors and one of the most modifiable risk factors."

Cynthia admits she is a typical mom and said she's lucky there was no permanent damage to her heart.

"We think of everyone else and often time put ourselves on the bottom of the list."

2012 WXIN-TV (Indianapolis)

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