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Heart attacks are not gender neutral

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

CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.

According to a recent statement from the American Heart Association, coronary heart disease remains understudied, underdiagnosed and undertreated in women despite improvements in cardiovascular mortality for women in the past two decades. Since 1984, the annual CVD mortality rate has remained greater for women than for men.

Why? There are a number of reasons:

  • Heart disease is more difficult to detect in women because their arteries are usually smaller so the typical angiogram test of cholesterol buildup doesn’t work well.
  • Heart attack symptoms are different. Women may experience nausea, back and jaw pain, and intermittent shortness of breath.
  • Women are prone to complications after a heart attack because their blood vessels are smaller.