You might think heart attacks don't discriminate, but that's not actually true. They do discriminate -- and it's a form of discrimination that's killing women.
Believe it or not, women are actually more likely to die and more likely to die young as a result of a heart attack, and it's because they don't always experience the classic heart attack warning signs.
You know the big one: chest pain. That sudden pain is a direct and urgent message from the body that something's wrong -- and you need to get to the hospital.
But according to a study of more than 1.4 million heart patients tracked for up to 12 years, only 58 percent of women experience chest pain during a heart attack. Compare that to 70 percent of men who feel chest pain, and it's not hard to see why women are 40 percent more likely to die as a result.
They simply never had a fair chance in the first place.
Overall, the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds that 10.3 percent of men who experience heart attacks die as a result of them, versus 14.6 percent of women -- with the biggest increase in risk among younger women, especially those 55 years old or younger.
Because they feel just about anything other than chest pain, these women are more likely to blame their symptoms on just about anything else: the flu, nerve or muscle pain, simple stress or something else entirely.
So instead of getting help, they pop a few painkillers or go lay down for a little while.
And some of them never get back up.
Don't let this happen to you or your loved ones. Make it your mission to get to know the rest of the heart attack warning signs, which include:
- Pain or a numb sensation in other parts of the body -- including the jaw, arms, stomach or back;
- Sudden fatigue;
- Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath;
- Nausea, vomiting and/or stomachache;
- Lightheadedness; and
- A cold sweat.
Don't wait to see if these symptoms pass. Get help -- especially if you're younger and especially if you're thinking "I couldn't possibly be having a heart attack."
That's the kind of attitude that's clearly getting people killed.
For more on heart protection, keep reading.