Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Unusual Fatigue May Be Warning Symptom Of Heart Attack In Women

Date:
November 4, 2003
Source:
American Heart Association
Summary:
In a study of women who had heart attacks, symptoms such as unexplained fatigue or trouble sleeping were experienced as much as a month before the heart attack, indicating the possibility that acting on these advance symptoms could prevent an impending heart attack.

DALLAS, Nov. 4 – In a study of women who had heart attacks, symptoms such as unexplained fatigue or trouble sleeping were experienced as much as a month before the heart attack, indicating the possibility that acting on these advance symptoms could prevent an impending heart attack. The study, one of the first comprehensive examinations of issues that might allow prevention of imminent heart attack in women, is reported in today's rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

"Since women reported experiencing early warning signs more than a month prior to the heart attack, this could allow time to treat these symptoms and to possibly delay or prevent the heart attack," said Jean C. McSweeney, Ph.D., R.N., lead author and a professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

Researchers recruited 515 women diagnosed with a heart attack and discharged from five different medical sites in Arkansas, North Carolina and Ohio within the previous four to six months. The women were age 66 on average, and 93 percent were Caucasian, 6.2 percent black and 0.4 percent Native American. Data collection occurred over three years.

To assess symptoms that might suggest an imminent heart attack, the researchers used the McSweeney Acute and Prodromal Myocardial Infarction Symptom Survey (MAPMISS), a telephone research tool developed by McSweeney and her colleagues. The survey lists 33 early, or prodromal, signs and 37 acute symptoms that women identified in previous studies. The researchers defined prodromal signs as being new or changing in intensity or frequency before the heart attack, being intermittent before the heart attack, and disappearing or returning to previous levels after the heart attack. Acute symptoms were defined as those appearing with the heart attack and not resolving until women received treatment.

The survey also included questions about other health problems, risk factors, medications and demographics. About 95 percent of women reported having new or different symptoms more than a month before their heart attacks that resolved after their heart attacks. This led them, in retrospect, to believe that these symptoms were related to the subsequent heart attack. The most common early symptoms were: unusual fatigue -- 70 percent; sleep disturbance -- 48 percent; shortness of breath -- 42 percent; indigestion -- 39 percent and anxiety -- 35 percent.

Only 30 percent reported chest discomfort before their heart attack. They described the discomfort in terms like aching, tightness and pressure – not pain, McSweeney said.

"Women need to be educated that the appearance of new symptoms may be associated with heart disease and that they need to seek medical care to determine the cause of the symptoms, especially if they have known cardiovascular risks such as smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, overweight or a family history of heart disease," she said.

Previous research by McSweeney and colleagues found that women who later identified an array of symptoms occurring before their heart attacks either ignored the signs or were misdiagnosed when they sought medical assistance.

McSweeney emphasized the importance of health care providers being aware of the symptoms women experience. While these early symptoms may not be specific in predicting an imminent heart attack, the "appearance of these symptoms, in conjunction with women's standard cardiovascular risk factors, may assist providers in determining at-risk women who should undergo cardiovascular diagnostic tests," she said.

Little has been known about the acute warning signs that women experience with heart attack, she said. But it is clear that women's experiences differ from the symptoms they expect.

In this study, researchers found that 43 percent of women reported no chest discomfort during their heart attack. For those who did, the main locations were in the back and high chest.

"Lack of significant chest pain may be a major reason why women have more unrecognized heart attacks than men or are mistakenly diagnosed and discharged from emergency departments," McSweeney said. "Many clinicians still consider chest pain as the primary symptom of a heart attack."

Other acute symptoms women reported were: shortness of breath -- 58 percent; weakness -- 55 percent; unusual fatigue -- 43 percent; cold sweat -- 39 percent and dizziness -- 39 percent.

The researchers noted that the study sample was primarily Caucasian. "We do not know if women's early warning and/or acute symptoms may vary according to their race, but we will address this issue with our ongoing study with minority women," McSweeney explained.

Also, there was not a control group of women without diagnosed heart disease, so it is unknown how many of these women might experience similar preliminary symptoms. Further research is needed to address these issues.

Co-authors are Marisue Cody, Ph.D., R.N.; Patricia O'Sullivan, Ed.D.; Karen Elberson, Ph.D., R.N.; Debra K. Moser, DNSc, R.N. and Bonnie J. Garvin, Ph.D., R.N. The National Institute of Nursing Research, part of the National Institute of Health, funded the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Heart Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Heart Association. "Unusual Fatigue May Be Warning Symptom Of Heart Attack In Women." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 November 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031104064056.htm>.
American Heart Association. (2003, November 4). Unusual Fatigue May Be Warning Symptom Of Heart Attack In Women. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031104064056.htm
American Heart Association. "Unusual Fatigue May Be Warning Symptom Of Heart Attack In Women." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/11/031104064056.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Big Pharma Braces for M&A Wave

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 22, 2014) Big pharma on the move as Novartis boss, Joe Jimenez, tells Reuters about plans to transform his company via an asset exchange with GSK, and Astra Zeneca shares surge on speculation that Pfizer is looking for a takeover. Joanna Partridge reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

Hagel Gets Preview of New High-Tech Projects

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is given hands-on demonstrations Tuesday of some of the newest research from DARPA _ the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins