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Sep 27, 2011

Gender Differences in Angina Symptoms

Angina symptoms every women should know.

Myocardial ischaemia, most commonly known as angina, is a heart condition caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. Angina is typically caused by heart disease and affects more than 7 million Americans. Classic angina symptoms include chest pain, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, anxiety, sweating, dizziness and pain in the arms, neck, jaw, shoulder or back. However, studies have suggested that symptoms of angina may manifest themselves differently in men and women. For example, some studies have shown that women may experience a sharper form of chest pain rather than the typical pressure commonly reported by men. Women also may be more likely to experience nausea, shortness of breath and/or abdominal pain, in place of other symptoms.

Although many studies have suggested differences in angina symptoms among men and women, this subject continues to be explored. In fact, a study published in the European Heart Journal recently reported that among 305 adults, there were no significant differences between rates of chest pain and other symptoms among men and women. However, women were nearly 3 times more likely to experience throat and jaw discomfort than men.

Based on the body of research on symptoms of angina, it is clear that angina may or may not present typical symptoms in women and men. Some women may experience atypical symptoms, such as a sharp chest pain, while others may experience classic symptoms common in men. Therefore, it is important that women are educated about both classic and atypical symptoms of angina, so that they can recognize the condition in any of its forms. 

Questions for You to Consider

  • How is angina treated?

  • Angina can be treated in a variety of ways, including lifestyle changes, medications, and medical procedures. For example, quitting smoking, losing weight and reducing stress can help successfully treat angina in some patients. For others, medications like beta blockers or procedures such as angioplasty and stenting may be necessary to treat the condition.
  • Who is at risk for angina?
  • Those at greatest risk for angina include individuals with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history of heart disease. Excess stress, smoking, older age and a lack of exercise can also increase risk for angina. Fortunately, most of these risk factors can be reduced by working with your doctor and making positive lifestyle changes.

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