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Women Often Ignore Signs of Heart Trouble

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WEDNESDAY, Oct. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- When it comes to heart disease, a new study finds women are more likely than men to delay care when they have symptoms that spell trouble.

"The main danger is that when someone comes to the hospital with a more severe or advanced stage of heart disease, there are simply fewer treatment options available," study author Catherine Kreatsoulas, a Fulbright Scholar and research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a news release from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

In the study, researchers talked to patients who sought medical care for angina and were waiting to undergo angiogram tests to look for signs of coronary artery disease. Angina, or chest pain, occurs when the heart doesn't get as much blood and oxygen as it needs because of a blockage in the heart's arteries.

The researchers found that men acted more quickly when they developed symptoms and spent less time denying the symptoms existed or dismissing them as not important enough to require immediate care.

"Women displayed more of an optimistic bias, feeling that the symptoms would pass and get better on their own," Kreatsoulas said. "When women feel even a small improvement in symptoms, they seem to dismiss them for a longer period of time."

Previous research suggests that women are more likely to worry about being out of commission due to medical care, "and not necessarily as concerned about the best treatment options," Kreatsoulas added.

The research was to be presented Tuesday at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Vancouver. Research released at conferences should be considered preliminary until it goes through the peer review process required to be published in major medical journals.

More information

The American Heart Association has details about heart attack symptoms in women.

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