Dr. Volgman shares which heart attack symptoms are the most common in women.
Very good question. There was a study that was done by nurses from the NIH. They asked a thousand women who just had a heart attack, what their symptoms were a month before their heart attack, and the most common response was unusual fatigue.
Seventy percent of the women noticed unusual fatigue, which is, unfortunately, a very general symptom, and if you are a woman going to a doctor complaining of unusual fatigue, no one is going to pay attention to you because every one’s fatigued, but it is up to that doctor and patient to realize that maybe there’s something else going on, especially in a woman who has risk factors.
And if that unusual fatigue is not brought on by any specific activity, you may want to look into her heart, but more often than not, that woman will be blown off. There no one is going to pay attention for that. Another symptom they complained of is anxiety, shortness of breath, and then only 30% of women who had heart attacks had complaints of chest pain.
So it’s really, really difficult to tell who is symptomatic and who is not and who is going to have a heart attack. So I don’t go by symptoms; I go by risk factors.
About Dr. Volgman, M.D., F.A.C.C.:
Annabelle S. Volgman is associate professor of medicine and medical director of the Heart Center for Women at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Dr. Volgman graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University, and received her medical doctorate degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York. She received her internal medicine training at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics and her cardiology fellowship training at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She was a fellow in clinical electrophysiology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Illinois Masonic Medical Center under Richard Kehoe, M.D.
Dr. Volgman has published numerous abstracts and articles in multiple topics of women and heart disease as well as cardiac electrophysiology. She is currently president of the Metro Chicago Board of Directors of the AHA. She has been a prominent leader of the Go Red for Women movement and has received numerous awards from the American Heart Association. She has been listed in several lists of top doctors and was named a top doctor in the January 2008 issue of “Chicago Magazine.” She has been interviewed by numerous media about health issues and was featured in “O” magazine as Oprah Winfrey’s cardiologist.
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