Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Heart Attacks: All Hearts are NOT Created Equal

By Diane Mayer

TriWest Healthcare Alliance

You may have heard that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. What fewer people may know is that women are less likely to survive heart attacks than men.

In fact, 38 percent of women compared with 25 percent of men will die within one year after a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association.

Despite these facts, many women believe that heart disease is not a real problem for women. In fact, a study by the American Heart Association revealed that only 13 percent of American women know that heart disease and stroke are their greatest health threats, demonstrating the lack of knowledge and understanding most women have for their most serious health threat. In addition, despite that minority women face the highest risk of death from heart disease and stroke, studies indicate that they have lower awareness of the risk factors.

Here are some key facts:

  • More women than men die of stroke.
  • The risk of heart disease and stroke increases with age.
  • Diagnosis of heart disease presents a greater challenge in women than in men.

As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. However, women are more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting and back or jaw pain. Additionally, women tend to delay longer than men in getting help for a possible heart attack.

Many women delay because they don’t want to bother or worry others, especially if their symptoms turn out to be a false alarm. But when you are facing something as serious as a possible heart attack, it is much better to be safe than sorry. Most hospitals have clot-busting medicines and other artery-opening treatments and procedures than can stop a heart attack, if given quickly. These treatments work best when given within the first hour after a heart attack starts, making immediate care for a suspected heart attack even more vital.

When you get to the hospital, don’t be afraid to speak up if you experience any of the symptoms listed above. You have the right to be thoroughly tested and examined for a possible heart attack.

The best way to survive a heart attack is to prevent having one in the first place. For both men and women, the biggest risk factors that contribute to heart disease are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, family history and age. Take a moment to look at your lifestyle, family history and your general health.

Need more information? Visit>beneficiary services>Healthy Living>Condition Management>Heart Disease. Other valuable Web resources are the American Heart Association ( and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute-NIH (

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