1. Heart attack symptoms in women are different

    When heart attacks strike without chest pain

    Most people think they know the classic signs of a heart problem: a sudden pain in the chest and in some cases right up the arm.

    And that's true... some of the time.

    But more than a third of the time, heart patients feel no chest pain at all, even during a heart attack -- and new research shows that heart attacks in women are different are more likely to occur without this classic telltale symptom.

    In fact, heart symptoms in women are up to 50 percent less likely to involve chest pain during acute coronary syndrome than men, according to a new study of roughly 1,000 heart patients.

    Acute coronary syndrome is when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, and includes everything from angina to an actual heart attack. And while it's perfectly understandable that many patients may not recognize the warning signs right away, it's practically unforgivable that many doctors don't as well.

    But they don't.

    As a result, patients without chest pain -- especially women -- are often told nothing's wrong. They're told to go home and rest, that maybe it's just gas. And they're told not to worry -- when, in fact, they have every reason to worry, because the absence of chest pain doesn't mean the heart attack is less severe.

    You could experience "the big one" -- a heart attack so massive your life is on the line -- with no chest pain at all, according to the study of heart attack symptoms in women.

    While the new study focused on heart attack symptoms in women under the age of 55, it's a fact that even older women can experience heart attack and other heart problems without the expected chest pain.

    But since many doctors still don't understand this, it's essential that you do -- that you learn the warning signs yourself, so you can insist on getting the care you need when you need it most.

    After chest pain, the most common warning signs include shortness of breath, cold sweats, feeling hot, sudden weakness and pain down the left arm or in the left shoulder.

    Remember, surviving that initial heart problem isn't the end of the battle -- it's the start of a war, one where your life is on the line every day.

    Once you're out of the hospital, begin work on a natural regimen to strengthen your heart -- including changes to your diet and in some cases the addition of heart-friendly supplements.

    I recommend working with a holistic medical doctor.

  2. Relative risk

    You can joke all you want about your kids, your parents or even your spouse driving you nuts--but the truth is, they could be doing something a whole lot worse.

    A new study finds that demanding relatives and other forms of family stress can increase your odds of getting angina, which is pain caused when the heart doesn't get enough blood.

    And if that's not dangerous enough, it's also a symptom of heart disease.

    On the bright side, I'd call that a pretty good excuse to keep the in-laws at arm's length.

    Danish researchers followed 4,500 middle-aged men and women who had no heart problems at the start of the study for six years. By the end of the study, however, 9.5 percent of men and 9.1 percent of women had experienced angina.

    Those most likely to come down with the condition tended to have less money and less happiness--but they also had one other thing in common: more stress from family members.

    The researchers collected data on the types and qualities of relationships the volunteers had with friends and family, and found that worrying or demanding relationships with a spouse increased the risk of angina by 3.5 times, while those same qualities in a relationship with a child doubled the risk.

    I'm guessing that risk shot up the moment the child got a driver's license, or when a daughter brought home her first boyfriend... but the study didn't get into that level of detail.

    Arguing could also increase your angina risk--but it depends on who you argue with: Bickering with your neighbor could increase the odds by 60 percent, while frequent disputes with your spouse upped it by 44 percent.

    You can safely argue with your kids, though. The study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that those disagreements had no impact on angina risk.

    Likewise, worry and demands from neighbors also didn't make a difference, at least when it came to angina.

    If that's too much to remember, here's a cheat sheet: Argue with your kids, worry with your neighbors, and don't do either with your spouse.

    Yes, I know that last one's impossible. Sometimes, life involves risk.

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