Heart attack symptoms in women are different to men's, charity warns

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world 

Women experience heart attacks differently to men meaning potentially deadly symptoms go undetected for longer, a charity has highlighted.  

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world, killing 17.5million people according to the latest figures from 2012. The American Heart Association has emphasised that while both men and women experience chest pains before or during a heart attack, women could also show more vague signs such as shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and neck or back pain.

Anxiety, sweating or indigestion are also linked with heart attacks in women. 

Both sexes also experience heart attacks due to blockages in the heart’s arteries, however the clots develop in a different ways. 

While total blockages caused by plaque are common in men, the substance tends to break away in women’s arteries to cause smaller blockages – making the symptoms of attacks more subtle, Dr Sheila Sahni, chief fellow in cardiovascular disease at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles said in a new statement published in the journal 'Circulation.'

Women are also generally older when they experience heart attacks, meaning they are likely to be frailer when heart attacks strike. 

The statement also drew attention to the underdiagnoses of heart disease in black women.

"Despite stunning improvements in cardiovascular deaths over the last decade, women still fare worse than men and heart disease in women remains under diagnosed, and undertreated, especially among African-American women," said Dr Mehta.

"Unfortunately many women don't make their own personal health their priority, which contributes to more favorable outcomes in men versus women after a heart attack," Dr Mehta added.

The AHA said that only 20 per cent of participants in clinical trials are women. 

"Most heart disease research is done in men, so how we categorize it is based on men. We need more science in women," Dr Mehta said.