Many of them don't even know they're having an attack until they get to the hospitaland that's OK: Experts say it's exponentially better to err on the side of caution and get to a hospital quickly.
Incredibly, one study of patients who had suffered a heart attack found that more than half did not immediately call an ambulance.
Women respond more slowly
Women are more likely than men to delay seeking treatment at the first signs of a heart attack, a behavior pattern that has puzzled cardiologists and contributes to the higher mortality rate from heart attack among women.
While heart attack care has come a long way, says Anne G. Rosenfeld, PhD, lead author of the study, "We need to do more to educate people about the consequences of delaying treatment."
Female, nonwhite, and poor patients are more likely than other patients to wait six hours or more before seeking help for a heart attack, according to a study of elderly Medicare patients led by a Georgetown University researcher.
According to J. Willis Hurst, MD, a cardiologist at Emory University, treatment delay is a public health issue that needs to be addressed. "Rather than repeated advertisements about gastrointestinal reflux, how about advertisements about MI (myocardial infarction)," Dr. Hurst has said.