Women may not have chest pain with heart attack

Montreal – Women are significantly more likely than men to have a heart attack without experiencing chest pain, according to a new study from the McGill University Health Centre.

Researchers examined 1,015 patients 55 and younger who were hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome, a term that includes heart attacks and angina. Although chest pain was the most common symptom among both men and women, approximately 20 percent of women did not experience chest pain, according to a press release. Yet even without chest pain, the heart attack could still be severe.

“The reality is that chest pain, age and gender are no longer the definers of a heart attack,” senior author Louise Pilote, director of the Division of General Internal Medicine at MUHC and McGill University, said in the press release. “Our study demonstrates that young people and women who come into the emergency [room] without chest pain, but other telltale ACS symptoms such as weakness, shortness of breath and/or rapid heartbeats, are in crisis.”

The study was published online Sept. 16 in JAMA Internal Medicine.