Sex differences in symptoms experienced, knowledge about symptoms, symptom attribution, and perceived urgency for treatment seeking among acute coronary syndrome patients in Karachi Pakistan
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Background: Patients' experience of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) symptoms is important in determining their prehospital delay.
Objective: To explore gender differences in acute symptoms of ACS, knowledge about the symptoms, their attribution, and perception of urgency, among Pakistani ACS patients.
Methods: Comparative, cross-sectional study design with 249 ACS patients.
Results: The most commonly reported symptoms were ghabrahat (fidgetiness), chest pain, and chest heaviness. Most atypical symptoms were experienced more by women, such as nausea/vomiting (p < 0.001), backache (p < 0.001), palpitations (p = 0.004), and epigastric pain (p = 0.005). Chest pain and palpitations were the symptoms most commonly attributed to cardiac causes, whereas epigastric pain was most commonly attributed to non-cardiac causes by both men and women. Significantly more women than men perceived dyspnea (p = 0.026), nausea/vomiting (p = 0.027), sweating (p = 0.014), and palpitations (p = 0.01) as symptoms not at all urgent for treatment.
Conclusions: Gender disparity in symptom experience along with the women's perception of non-urgency for their symptoms, could lead to delayed care seeking.