Archive for Saturday, March 3, 2001

Heart attacks affect women more often than men

March 3, 2001

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Do you know the warning signs of a heart attack? If your answer is no, the consequences could cost you your life.

A heart attack happens when part of the heart muscle suddenly loses its blood supply. The death of this heart muscle often causes chest pain. The good news is 90 to 95 percent of heart attack victims who reach the hospital will survive. The bad news is 40 percent of heart attacks are silent, or without chest pain.

Dr. Kamu Maganti of Lawrence Memorial Hospital says listening to your body can make the difference bet-ween life or death.

"I have a patient right now in the hospital who had just one hour of chest pain that she totally ignored," Maganti says. "It was too late for us to do anything. Luckily, she's doing well, but it could have taken her life."

Maganti says women should be especially concerned.

"I don't know why, but the mortality in women is so much worse than what it is with men."

Twenty-five percent of men who experience a heart attack will die. On the other hand, the statistics are significantly higher for women. Maganti says the mortality rate for females falls between 36 percent and 45 percent.

"Most people don't realize that they need to come in, when the warning signs are there," she says.

The warning signs can be very subtle, and vary from person to person.

"The warning signs that are commonly seen with men is not often seen with women," Maganti says. "Women can have very atypical symptoms."

While men may experience chest pain or pressure, Maganti says women may experience shoulder or arm pain, fatigue, shortness of breath or nausea. Men or women may also feel a vague, or dull heaviness, squeezing or band-like sensation.

Because the adrenal glands release adrenaline in the morning hours, heart attacks often occur from 4 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Approximately 1 million Americans suffer a heart attack every year. About 400,000 of those victims will die as a result.

Maganti says the best way to avoid a heart attack is treat your body to a healthy diet and regular exercise.

"We don't actually ask everybody to go to a gym, pay a lot of money and work out," she says. "Just walking would be good."

Most importantly, listen to your body's signals.

"If somebody feels discomfort or just fatigue, which is unusual to what they would normally feel, they should come into the hospital and get themselves checked out," she says.

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