“Sucks to be female. Better luck next life!”
You’re unlikely to spot this succinct summary within the pages of the new official scientific statement on women’s heart attacks from the American Heart Association, but that’s basically the message.(1) That pithy summary, by the way, was originally quoted here from Laura Haywood-Cory, who at age 40 survived a heart attack caused by Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. (See also: Cardiac Gender Bias: We Need Less TALK and More WALK.
The AHA statement, published this week in the journal Circulation to a flutter of media interest, basically confirms what I’ve been writing and speaking about for the past eight years: if you’re a woman having a heart attack, you’re more likely to be underdiagnosed – and then undertreated even when appropriately diagnosed – compared to our male counterparts. So my question this week (as a woman who was sent home from the ER in mid-heart attack with a misdiagnosis of acid reflux) is this: if Laura and I and countless other women who’ve survived a heart attack have long ago reported on this “news”, why has it taken 92 years for the American Heart Association to produce its first ever scientific statement on myocardial infarction in female patients? But don’t get me wrong – I’m always relieved to see any attempt from any major heart organization that helps to spread the word, so I’m running the full AHA news release for you here: