BACKGROUND: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer among women in the United States. Differences in the clinical features of coronary heart disease among men and women have been reported, along with various approaches to the diagnostic workup and therapeutic interventions. PURPOSE: To explore the relationship between descriptors of signs and symptoms of coronary heart disease and follow-up care and to investigate any differences between male and female patients. METHODS: Structured interviews with patients and chart audits were used to assess initial signs and symptoms, associated cardiac-related signs and symptoms, and the diagnostic tests and interventions used for treatment. The sample consisted of 98 patients (51 women and 47 men) who were admitted with a medical diagnosis of myocardial infarction. RESULTS: Chest pain was the most common sign or symptom reported by both men and women. The 4 most common associated signs and symptoms were identical in men and women: fatigue, rest pain, shortness of breath, and weakness. However, significantly more women than men reported loss of appetite, paroxysmal nocturnal dyspnea, and back pain. Women were also less likely than men to have angiography and to receive i.v. nitroglycerin, heparin, and thrombolytic agents as part of acute management of myocardial infarction. CONCLUSION: Chest pain remains the initial symptom of acute myocardial infarction in both men and women. However, women may experience some different associated signs and symptoms than do men. Despite these similarities, men still are more likely than women to have angiography and to receive a number of therapies.

You do not currently have access to this content.