Women die from heart attacks at twice the rate of men in the U.S.

The American Heart Association reveals gender disparities in heart attack symptom recognition in newly released report co-authored with Hello Heart

Menlo Park, Calif., April 12, 2023 — Hello Heart, the only digital therapeutic that focuses exclusively on heart health, has launched the "If You Feel Something, Say Something" campaign empowering women to recognize heart attack symptoms and advocate for themselves. The campaign comes on the heels of a newly released joint report from the American Heart Association (AHA) on gender disparities in heart attack symptoms, which highlights the differences in heart attack symptoms between women and men. 

The “If You Feel Something, Say Something" campaign seeks to empower women to speak up and advocate for themselves if they experience symptoms of a heart attack. It will provide resources and information on a newly launched microsite to help women understand the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, as well as tips for how to advocate for themselves if they are not receiving appropriate care.  Accompanied by the report and microsite, Hello Heart’s platform offers real-time information about users’ heart health and includes a different symptom assessment for female users, allowing women to take control of their health and mitigate long-standing disparities in care and outcomes.

Some of the stark findings brought to light in the joint report include:

  • Women who experience heart attacks die at twice the rate of men mainly because their symptoms are misinterpreted for other conditions. 
  • Women are seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed and discharged from an emergency room amid a heart attack.
  • Even when correctly diagnosed with a heart attack, biases in the American health system contribute to women waiting, on average, eleven minutes longer than men to be seen by a doctor in emergency rooms. The wait time is even worse for women of color, who wait 15 minutes longer on average than white women to be evaluated by a provider. 
  • Compared to men, women are more likely to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, or neck discomfort. Often, women’s heart attack symptoms are mistaken for anxiety.
  • From a patient’s arrival to the removal of the blockage causing the heart attack, there is about a 90-minute window to improve chances of survival, known as “door-to-balloon” time. Improper diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare lower women’s chances of survival. Women also are less likely to receive potentially beneficial medications such as aspirin and cholesterol-lowering medications.

"Enough is enough," said Maayan Cohen, CEO of Hello Heart. "We know that gender disparities in heart attack treatment are a serious problem, and our joint report with the AHA underscores the urgency of this issue. Our campaign is about empowering women to learn their unique heart attack symptoms and to speak up if they feel something is wrong. By equipping women with accurate medical knowledge, we can undo the disparities in heart health in the U.S.  We hope that our efforts will not only raise awareness among patients, but also inspire real change among medical providers in the way women are treated when they experience a heart attack."

The lack of awareness about women-specific heart attack symptoms is so pervasive in the U.S. that over half of women having a heart attack did not recognize their condition instead attributing their symptoms to stress or anxiety.

“Women fare worse at every stage of their health journey for heart attack, including diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare,” said Dr. Edo Paz, Hello Heart Senior Vice President (SVP) Medical Affairs. “Access to proper treatment and care is integral to outcomes for women suffering from heart attacks. Appropriate and timely care can save lives. Nonetheless, the crushing chest pain often associated with heart attacks isn’t always prevalent in women and often can lead to misdiagnosis or even outright disregard. We must educate women about their specific heart attack symptoms and work with providers to ensure women have adequate care.”