Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death among women in the U.S. However, time and time again, when it comes to matters of the female heart, health care providers seem perplexed. Misdiagnosis in female heart health matters is not uncommon. Sometimes, severe heart ailments in women initially recognized as other health issues such as asthma, panic attacks, stomach issues and gallstone attacks.

So why is the female heart so misunderstood by many health care professionals? It turns out that the medical world is playing extreme catch-up in women’s heart health matters. The reason is that in the previous decades, numerous research studies on the human heart centered on men and the issues they face.

Researchers playing catch up

Middle age men were the primary subjects of heart disease research in the 1960s and 1970s, and that pattern continued. For example, a 1982 research trial that proved the first link between cholesterol and heart disease involved nearly 12,900 men, but no women. Then in 1995, another study that excluded women, but had more than 22,000 men, discovered that aspirin reduced the chances of a heart attack.

But things have gradually changed. A 2015 study disclosed that symptoms of heart disease in women differed from men’s symptoms. In heart attack situations, men often experience severe chest pain, while women may experience back pain, jaw pain, flu-like symptoms and severe indigestion. Women also described how they were not taken seriously when discussing their ailment.

These situations should not happen in any health care matter regardless of gender. If you suspect a heart ailment, be persistent when talking with your physician and seek additional tests. If your doctor does not provide you with a satisfactory answer, get a second opinion. Early detection is crucial in fending off the leading cause of death among U.S. women.