09 April 2012

Heart Attacks and Women

Are you a woman or do you know a woman? If yes, this might be relevant to you.

Breast Cancer Awareness gets a lot of coverage on women's health. I can't go a single day without hearing an advertisement for The Three-Day, the Susan G. Komen Foundation's Race For The Cure. Pink ribbons abound. And of course cervical cancer gets a lot of press. And there's been a lot in the news lately about reproductive health  and women's reproductive rights. (Poor Planned Parenthood's been weathering a lot of abuse.) I live in Virginia, so I've heard a lot about the ultrasound law lately.

You know what I'd never heard about until last month? Heart attacks in women.

I always hear about men having heart attacks. I hear about men taking baby aspirin to lower risk of heart attacks. (Does that even help? Sources seem conflicting.) But I'd not realized it was an actual health issue for women. I guess I thought it was just more prevalent in men. Or everybody knows this, and I'm just dumb. But I'm jumping to the conclusion that if I didn't really know much about it, other people might not know much about it either.

Women do have heart attacks. However, the symptoms are not always the same as we are taught to expect from a heart attack. Apparently, female heart attacks are frequently misdiagnosed as panic or anxiety attacks.

Heart attacks are serious business. I would be terribly upset if someone I knew wasn't treated for a heart attack because people thought it was an anxiety attack. Those are pretty different things.

As always, nothing you read on the internet is medical advice for you, and I am not a doctor. So if you are concerned, you should absolutely speak to your doctor.