The study, headed by Martha Mackay of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, was performed on 305 patients. These subjects were having the procedure angioplasty performed at a Canadian hospital.
Angioplasty is a technique of widening a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel, usually with tightly folded balloons that are then inflated.
The angioplasty procedure produces symptoms that are similar to a heart attack; therefore, the researchers were able to study these patients with respect to their symptoms.
The researchers found that the symptoms between men and women were basically the same. There were no differences in the “classic” symptoms of sweating and clammy skin, nausea and indigestion, shortness of breath, and arm discomfort.
According to the October 25, 2009 EurekAlert article The heart attack myth: Study establishes that women do have same the heart attack symptoms as men, the researchers found that, “While both women and men may experience typical or non-typical symptoms, the major difference was that female patients were more likely to have both the classic symptoms of heart attack plus throat, jaw, and neck discomfort.”
Mackay stated, "Both the media and some patient educational materials frequently suggest that women experience symptoms of a heart attack very differently from men. These findings suggest that this is simply not the case." [EurekAlert]
She added, "Clear educational messages need to be crafted to ensure that both women and healthcare professionals realize the classic symptoms are equally common in men and women.” [EurekAlert]
Page two concludes with the basic symptoms (warning signs) for both men and women.
The results from the study were presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2009, held between October 24-28, 2009. The CCC2009 was co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society.
The article states that the warning signals of a heart attack for both men and women are:
o Sudden discomfort or pain that does not go away with rest
o Pain that may be in the chest, neck, jaw, shoulder, arms or back
o Pain that may feel like burning, squeezing, heaviness, tightness or pressure
o In women, pain may be more vague
o Chest pain or discomfort that is brought on with exertion and goes away with rest
Shortness of breath
o Difficulty breathing
o Cool, clammy skin
For addition information on the signs of a heart attack, please read the American Heart Association's article "Heart Attack Symptoms and Warning Signs."