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Is it anxiety or heart disease?

Published in Heart & Vascular, For the Health of It Author: Kathleen Mahon,APRN,CNP Author: Kathleen Mahon, RN, MN, CNP, APHN

According to a recent study, women with anxiety disorders were 75 percent more likely than women without anxiety to have reduced blood flow to the heart during activity.

What does this mean? Anxiety symptoms — tiredness and shortness of breath — may disguise heart disease symptoms so women are being misdiagnosed. Chest tightness is another common and well recognized symptom with anxiety and/or coronary disease.

The study was published online Feb. 23 in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Researchers concluded that anxiety disorders appear to be more common in women than in men and there is a link between anxiety disorders and worse cardiac outcomes.

The symptoms of a heart attack can be different for women than for men. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women are more likely to describe chest pain that is sharp or burning; they more frequently have pain in the neck, jaw, throat, abdomen or back.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States — one in every four females will die of heart disease each year. Don’t rely on self diagnosing. Seek medical attention immediately for any concerning symptoms that do not resolve quickly.