Granted, for men and women alike, one alcoholic drink a day can benefit the heart -- in fact, it can lower a woman's heart disease risk by 17 percent. But beyond that, alcohol seems to affect men and women very differently.
Several years ago, Japanese researchers found that women who drank 2 - 4 drinks per day were 45 percent more likely to die of heart disease than female nondrinkers. On the other hand, men who drank that much were 19 percent less likely than male nondrinkers to die from heart disease. The study didn't look at the reasons for these surprising differences, but it's probably best to imbibe moderately while scientists search for answers.
In the movies, heart attacks follow a familiar pattern: The actor freezes, clutches his chest, and promptly keels over on the golf course. But for up to 33 percent of female heart attack sufferers, this Hollywood version of events never happens.
Instead, they experience nausea, extreme weakness, lethargy, skin clamminess, upper back pain, and shortness of breath. These subtler symptoms frequently are overlooked by patients and doctors alike, putting lives at risk, says cardiologist Nieca Goldberg, M.D.
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