Did you know that coronary heart disease (CHD) kills more than twice as many UK women each year as breast cancer?
Heart disease tends to be something we worry about happening to our husbands, fathers and brothers, but the reality is that it is just as deadly for women. Perhaps even more so because we’re not as aware of it.
In fact, CHD is the single biggest cause of death in women the world over. So why are so many women dying from something that we know is treatable and preventable?
Leaving it too late
Women tend not to recognise the signs of heart disease because they aren’t taught to look out for them. And heart problems can present differently in women compared to men.
So often, by the time a woman turns up in the doctor’s office or at A&E, it is already too late.
Heart attack misdiagnosis
Sadly, it’s not just women themselves who aren’t expecting to get heart problems – a woman is fifty per cent more likely than a man to get the wrong initial diagnosis for a heart attack.
Also, women who have had a heart attack are also less likely than men to be prescribed medication to prevent them having another one.
The medical profession clearly needs to do more to ensure that women get diagnosed and treated quickly, but what can women do themselves to ensure that their heart problems don’t go unnoticed?
Be aware of the warning signs
Heart attack symptoms don’t just differ between genders but can vary wildly from person to person. Which of course is what makes diagnosis so difficult.
Here are some of the most common warning signs to look out for. Be aware that you might not experience all of these, but if you have one or more, you should seek medical attention immediately:
- Sudden chest pain – or a tightening feeling – that doesn’t go away
- Pain spreading from your chest to your arm, jaw, back or stomach
- Shortness of breath
Preventing CHD in women
Whilst it’s important to recognise the signs of a heart attack, the ideal situation is that you never need to use that knowledge. It is also worth noting that one in five people receive no warning signs at all.
So, what are the main causes of coronary heart disease in women, and what can we do to prevent it?
Risk factors include:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
The good news is that most of these risk factors can be eliminated, or at least greatly reduced, by adopting a healthier lifestyle: giving up smoking, eating a healthy, balanced diet and taking up regular exercise will all give your heart a much better chance at staying fit and healthy.
If you are concerned or would like to find out more about your personal risk of CHD, Dr Grosser runs a cardiac screening service, during which factors such as your family history of heart disease, lifestyle choices, medications etc will be discussed.
You will then undergo a series of thorough physical checks to analyse your risk of coronary heart disease.
At the end of the screening process, we will provide you with a detailed report along with advice for both you and your doctor.
For more information or to book an appointment, please call us on 0333 444 1844 to arrange a consultation.