Everyone, including professionals, should know that the symptoms that warn of a heart attack are different in men and women.
Typically for men, putting their hand to their chest due to a stabbing, pressing pain radiating to their left arm is the classic image of this event. On the other hand, a woman experiencing a heart attack may feel debilitating fatigue, shortness of breath or clammy sweat among many other complaints.
The differentiation is important considering that although women die more often from cardiovascular disease than men, they are also more likely to be misdiagnosed. They are also less likely to receive prompt and appropriate treatment.
The situation is similar with this Heart attack. As a study recently published in the journal shows The Lancet Digital Health, read The warning signs of this medical emergency also differ depending on gender.
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops pumping. This prevents blood from flowing to the brain and other vital organs. It occurs due to a cardiac arrhythmia that is, due to an electrical malfunction of the heart, as opposed to a heart attack, which occurs due to a blocked artery that prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching some of it.
Sudden cardiac arrest is a common cause of death with a high mortality rate of over 90%. Every year this event claims around 30,000 lives in Spain.
About half of the patients who suffer from it suffer from it Telltale symptoms in the hours, days, or weeks before cardiac arrest. It is crucial to identify them in a timely manner. The study estimates that those who call emergency services before they collapse due to sudden cardiac arrest are five times more likely to survive.
Symptoms of cardiac arrest: differences between men and women
In women, dyspnea or shortness of breath was significantly associated with sudden cardiac arrest. Between Men, chest pain, dyspnea and diaphoresis (sweating) were the most commonly associated symptoms.
Sweating and seizure-like activity occurred in smaller subgroups of both sexes.
“This difference between women and men has been demonstrated in previous studies and once again underscores the importance of considering the gender of the presenting patient,” write researchers from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“If gender is not taken into account, there is a possibility that Imminent cardiac events in women are not recognized,” the authors add in the study.
The risk of having a heart attack depends on age
To find out how best to predict sudden cardiac arrest, the team collected data from the ongoing study Predicting sudden death in multiethnic communities (PRESTO) in Ventura County, California, and the study of Sudden unexpected death in Oregon (SUDS) in Portland, Oregon.
The researchers examined individual symptoms and groups of symptoms that occurred before sudden cardiac arrest. They then compared the results with control groups who also sought emergency medical care.
“We started the SUDS study 22 years ago and the PRESTO study 8 years ago. These groups have provided invaluable insights along the way,” explains Dr. Sumeet Chugh, a cardiac arrest expert who led the research, said in a press release.
The Ventura study showed that 50% of 823 people experienced a sudden cardiac arrest that was witnessed by at least a bystander or emergency professional a telltale symptom 24 hours earlier. The study conducted in Oregon produced similar results.
According to the researchers, these findings pave the way for new research that could help Better predict cardiac arrest threatening suddenness.
“We will complement these gender-specific warning symptoms with additional features such as clinical profiles and biometric measurements to improve prediction of sudden cardiac arrest,” says Chugh.