Heart Attacks: Women at Greater Risk for Fatal Ones, Study Finds

PHOTO: Rosie ODonnell is pictured on Feb. 12, 2015 in New York City. PlayMike Coppola/Getty Images
WATCH Women's Health Study: Signs, Symptoms of Heart Attack

An important alert about heart disease from a new study finds that too many women fail to recognize the symptoms until it's too late.

Heart disease kills one in three women every year.

Young women are especially vulnerable because they often don’t recognize the signs and symptoms of heart trouble.

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health interviewed 30 women between the ages of 30 and 55 who had heart attacks. All of these women delayed treatment because they didn't recognize the symptoms or lacked knowledge about their risk factors, the researchers found.

“What we know is that the signs and symptoms of a heart attack in women can be very vague and they can mimic the signs and symptoms of something very common things,” ABC News Medical Contributor, Dr. Jennifer Ashton told Good Morning America.

Rosie O'Donnell was just 50 when she had a heart attack in 2012. Even though she had symptoms, she delayed seeking treatment for more than a day, she has admitted.

Ignorance alone could be responsible for the more than 15,000 women who die each year from a heart attack in the U.S, the researchers speculated. It could also explain why women under the age of 55 have twice the risk of dying during hospitalization for an acute heart attack of men in the same age group.

The classic scene where a man clutches his chest and collapses to the group may not necessarily apply to women, according to the American Heart Association. In reality, symptoms for a woman may be far less dramatic.

“Chest pain is still the most common symptom of a heart attack,” Ashton said. "There can be shortness of breath and almost flu-like symptoms including nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting.”

Symptoms may start several days or even weeks before a major heart attack, Ashton added.

Other common heart attack symptoms for women include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach, the American Heart Association noted. If you have any of these signs, the association urges you not to wait more than five minutes before calling for medical help.