NY Times -Contrary to popular belief, breast cancer is not the leading cause of death in American women; heart disease is. Heart disease kills more women in the U.S. than all types of cancer combined and is dubbed a “quiet killer.”
Why? Some suggest it is because of the different ways heart attacks manifest in both genders; typically causing crippling, chest-clutching pain in men and less obvious symptoms in women such as nausea, vomiting or chills. Women die more from heart attacks due to the subtlety of symptoms, even though men have more heart attacks overall.
There are various physiological theories on why women experience heart disease differently. However, one irrefutable facet of the issue is the discrepancy in the number of women subjects in medical studies. In the past, females reporting the same symptoms as males not only received less aggressive treatments but were sometimes even given psychiatric diagnoses in lieu of medical interventions.
Females still only make up 24% of participants in heart studies, but there may be hope on the horizon. Recently, the N.I.H. reported that it will allocate $10.1 million for more women to be included in future medical studies.
In the meantime, the most important thing is to not hesitate to get medical help if you experience any abnormal chest pain or unfamiliar symptoms in general.