Sex differences in symptom presentation associated with acute myocardial infarction: a population-based perspective

Am Heart J. 1998 Aug;136(2):189-95. doi: 10.1053/hj.1998.v136.88874.


Objectives: To describe sex differences in symptom presentation after acute myocardial infarction (AMI) while controlling for differences in age and other potentially confounding factors.

Background: Although several studies have examined sex differences in diagnosis, management, and survival after AMI, limited data exist about possible sex differences in symptom presentation in the setting of AMI.

Methods: Community-based study of patients hospitalized with confirmed AMI in all 16 metropolitan Worcester, Mass., hospitals (1990 census population = 437,000). Men (n = 810) and women (n = 550) hospitalized with validated AMI in 1986 and 1988 comprised the study sample.

Results: After simultaneously controlling for age, medical history, and AMI characteristics through regression modeling, men were significantly less likely to complain of neck pain (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 0.52; 95% CI: 0.35, 0.78), back pain (OR = 0.38; 95% CI: 0.26, 0.56), jaw pain (OR = 0.50; 95% CI: 0.31, 0.81), and nausea (O.R. = 0.58; 95% CI: 0.45, 0.75) than women. Conversely, men were significantly more likely to report diaphoresis (OR = 1.27; 95% CI: 1.00, 1.61) than women. There were no statistically significant sex differences in complaints of chest pain though men were more likely to complain of this symptom.

Conclusions: The results of this population-based observational study suggest differences in symptom presentation in men and women hospitalized with AMI. These findings have implications for public and health care provider education concerning recognition of sex differences in AMI-related symptoms and health care seeking behaviors.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cause of Death
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massachusetts
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / diagnosis*
  • Myocardial Infarction / mortality
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pain / etiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Admission / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Factors