Question: How is heart disease in women different than heart disease in men?
Answer: There are many similarities but there are also some important differences in heart disease between men and women. But first of all, it's important to know that heart disease is the single leading cause of death for both men and women. And it's highly preventable, so we need to focus on this condition in both men and women. However, women tend to experience heart disease 10 years later than men. They also tend to have a worse prognosis with heart disease once they come to the hospital.
Women also may experience different symptoms of heart disease than men. But for both genders, chest pressure is the most common symptom of heart disease. Women, however, may experience shortness of breath, jaw pain, headaches, nausea, fatigue, stomach upset -- which we call atypical symptoms of heart disease -- more commonly than men.
So it's important that we be educated about our risk for heart disease, because it is our leading cause of death, and also about the symptoms of heart disease. Because we know that for both men and women, it's critically important that we don't delay going to the hospital if we think we're experiencing a heart attack. Because the longer we wait, the less chances of survival.
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