WOMEN experiencing heart attacks are more likely than men to have their symptoms of chest pain misdiagnosed by doctors as anxiety or stress, a study in Spain has warned.

Scientists from Hospital Clinic of Barcelona found that women were almost twice as likely as men to acute coronary problems – including heart attacks – misdiagnosed. 

Researchers analysed 41,828 patients who were admitted to a hospital emergency department with chest pain between the years 2008 and 2019.

Of the patients, 42 per cent were women, and the median age was 65 years for the women and 59 for the men. 

Women were significantly more likely to present late to the hospital (defined as waiting 12 hours or longer after symptom onset): this occurred in 41% of women compared to 37% of men.

Paper author Gemma Martinez-Nadal said: “Our findings suggest a gender gap in the first evaluation of chest pain, with the likelihood of heart attack being underestimated in women.

“The low suspicion of heart attack occurs in both women themselves and in physicians, leading to higher risks of late diagnosis and misdiagnosis.” 

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