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More than 40 per cent of heart attacks go undiagnosed when they occur, Dutch researchers have discovered. The work, published in the European Heart Journal, found rates of unrecognised attacks are higher for women than men, with over half of female myocardial infarctions slipping under the radar. And then just slipping under, presumably.

Report co-author Dr Eric Boersma of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam said the explanation for the gender discrepancy was not straightforward. Women feel different symptoms to men – the typical shooting pains down the arms may not present themselves, with shoulder or stomach pains felt instead.

He added: "It is also a problem that women and their doctors have traditionally worried more about death from breast and gynaecological cancer, than from heart disease."

The authors are recommending greater use of ECG tests for those in at-risk groups.

The news comes hot on the heels of research last week which revealed 7 per cent of men in Ireland experiencing a heart attack drive themselves to hospital. ®

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