Newswise — New Brunswick, NJ—A strong sensation of pressure—what some have described as an elephant sitting on one’s chest—can be one of the red flags that someone is experiencing a heart attack and should seek immediate medical assistance. But if you are a woman, waiting to feel this type of pain may be a mistake.
Fifty percent of the time a woman has a heart attack, there will be no chest pain involved, explains Dr. Liliana Cohen, a board-certified cardiologist with Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group, who also serves as assistant professor of medicine at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and director of stress testing and cardiac rehabilitation at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
Instead, women are far more likely than men to experience atypical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and indigestion; abdominal pain; jaw pain; shortness of breath; lightheadedness or dizziness; or a generalized sensation of fatigue, says Cohen.
“Women tend to come for medical attention much later than men and will often be under-diagnosed with heart disease, most likely due to these atypical symptoms,” Cohen says.
Understanding the different symptoms for women is particularly important, Cohen says, since the risks posed by cardiovascular disease are much more significant than many women realize. While many women tend to focus on prevention of breast cancer and other forms of cancer, heart disease actually kills more women each year than all other forms of cancer combined. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death for women in the United States, Cohen notes.
While risk factors like family history and age can’t be changed, one of the most important strategies for women at risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) or heart attacks is to be particularly aggressive in addressing the modifiable risk factors for CVD: smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight, and low physical activity, she stresses.
Additional information about women and heart disease is available in a new video with Cohen at http://youtu.be/4MEPv4yYZwQ.
About Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group
Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group is the faculty practice of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. One of the largest multispecialty physician practices in the state, Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group consists of more than 500 physicians with expertise in more than 200 subspecialty clinical programs, providing a full range of highly specialized services for children and adults. In addition to its main practice location in New Brunswick, Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group offers services in Hamilton, Monroe, Piscataway, Princeton, and Somerset.
The group supports the education, research, patient care, and community outreach missions of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, one of the nation’s leading comprehensive medical schools. Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and its principal affiliate, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, comprise one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers. In addition, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has 34 other hospital affiliates and ambulatory care sites throughout the region.
More information about Robert Wood Johnson Medical Group can be found online at www.RWJMedicalGroup.org or by calling 1-877-4RWJDOC.