A research study presented at a meeting of the America Heart Association says that women aged less than 55 don't recognize the warning signs of a heart attack often because it doesn't resemble what is shown in Hollywood movies as a precursor to heart attack!
According to the study author Judith Lichtman, an associate professor of epidemiology and public health at Yale School of Medicine, the women were expecting symptoms like tightening in the chest, shortness of breath and clutching the chest while dropping to one knee to occur before a heart attack!
As a result, more often than not, by the time women realize that they are suffering from a heart disease, it is too late. In fact, Lichtman and her team found that 88% of women in the trial reported symptoms of severe chest pain, but only 42% suspected that something was wrong. Most of them attributed the pain to acidity, fatigue and stress. When they were told that they were suffering from heart disorders, they were surprised because the symptoms varied a lot from those shown in public media (read films!).
As Lichtman says in an interview to the media, “They wish that they had known that symptoms such as neck and shoulder pain, abdominal discomfort that was easy to mistake for indigestion, or unusual fatigue could signal a heart problem. They often said that TV doesn’t show examples of the symptoms they experienced. If they knew, they would have responded to the symptoms sooner.”
Little wonder that statistics paints a grim picture of the number of patients suffering from heart diseases. Consider this: heart disease leads to almost half a million American women dying every year (approximately one death per minute), 16,000 young women with heart disease die every year and 40,000 are hospitalised. With India likely to carry the burden of close to 60% of heart patients in the world, this should ring alarm bells for us as well.
For this study, researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 30 women with an average age of 48, a week after they had been discharged from the hospital following a heart attack, and presented their study at the American Heart Association’s 9th Scientific Forum on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research (QCOR) in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke. Check out this American Health Association guide on how to identify a heart attack.
And you thought people were mature enough to differentiate reel life from real life!