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Preventive Healthcare Steps
CHICAGO - As with women of all races and ethnic backgrounds, for American Indian and Alaska Native women heart disease is the biggest cause of death.
A new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week finds women are more likely than men to have a heart attack without chest pain. Unfortunately, this may mean they fail to seek immediate health care.
Heart attacks may be overlooked completely because symptoms in many women are not clear-cut. Many research studies in the past did not include women participants; therefore, conclusions from those studies may not be valid for making health care decisions about women.
At each stage of a woman's life, there are important preventive health care steps to follow in order to provide early detection of medical problems, or to prevent them entirely. Simple steps include healthy eating, regular exercise, and medical checkups. It is important to be informed about women's health issues and discuss them thoroughly with your doctor.
Although chest pain or discomfort is the most common heart attack symptom, fatigue, nausea, shortness of breath and pain or numbness in the jaw, arms or back can also signal a blocked artery cutting off vital oxygen and nutrients from the heart. And according to a new study of more than 1 million heart attack patients, women under 55 are less likely to seek medical attention for those atypical symptoms and more likely to die in a hospital from a heart attack than men of the same age.
"Young women who have atypical symptoms might not appreciate that they're in fact having a heart attack and may be more likely to delay treatment,"
said Dr. John Canto, a cardiologist at the Watson Clinic in Lakeland, FL, and lead author of the study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"They think it's the flu or stress or a pinched nerve, and they don't want to come in to the hospital only to have doctors tell them it's nothing serious. But we should all err on the side of caution."
posted February 23, 2012 6:00 am est
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