Heart Attacks Leading Cause of Death in Women

February is National Heart Health Month, and Sheridan Media reporter Pat Blair continues our series today with a look at heart attacks in women.

Heart attacks are a leading cause of death in women. Sheridan cardiologist Dr. Joseph Garcia says about 25 percent of deaths for women are heart attacks. He said it was initially thought that men and women had different heart attack symptoms, but that really isn't the case. But, he said, there are some important differences between the genders.

He said women who have heart attacks at earlier ages tend to have a strong family history of heart problems, or very poor cholesterol. He said most of them also are smokers. Garcia said most women don't present with complaints of heart attacks. They present with complaints of chest pain. He said it's always important to get checked out. But, he said, heart attacks in women can be signaled by atypical symptoms.

He said women also are very good about being on top of taking care of their husbands or significant others, but may not be as good about taking care of themselves. They attribute the body's signals to stress, and a lot of times may be too busy to get evaluated. He said because women overall are smaller, with smaller arteries, and may have a lot of poorly controlled risk factors, the risk of doing stints or bypass surgery sometimes tends to be higher in women.