Posted by Katie Shaw, Trainee Solicitor
Heart attacks kill more women than they should – why is this and what can be done?
The British Heart Foundation have highlighted that Coronary heart disease ‘kills twice as many women as breast cancer every year, yet coronary heart disease is still perceived as a “man’s disease”’ . Katie Shaw takes a look at why this might be, a recent example which demonstrates the danger of this, and what symptoms of heart attack women should look out for.
Statistics show that, when experiencing symptoms of heart attack, women are slower to ring 999 for an ambulance than men. This can result in poorer outcomes as early treatment is directly linked to survival chances.
The causes and pitfalls of this gender discrepancy
So what is the cause of this gender discrepancy? A common theory is that women are by nature just more reluctant to cause a fuss, and fear feeling ashamed if it transpires they are not in a life threatening situation.
However in addition to this, studies have shown women are less likely to present with tell-tale chest pain when suffering from a heart attack. Therefore both women and the medical professionals that they come into contact with may not be recognising the signs and symptoms of coronary trouble early enough.
To illustrate this, the twittersphere has been alight this week with the details of one lady’s plight in the USA, @geewheezie, who suffered a heart attack recently and has been raising awareness of the a-typical symptoms she presented with:
I want to warn women our heart attacks feel different. Last Sunday I had a heart attack. I had a 95% block in my left anterior descending artery. I’m alive because I called 911. I never had chest pain. It wasn’t what you read in pamphlets. I had it off & on for weeks.
— gwheezie (@geewheezie) December 9, 2018
Potential symptoms of heart attack to keep an eye out for
With the above knowledge to hand, it is therefore all the more important for women to keep an eye out for signs of heart attack that they might not expect.
The British Heart foundation gives the following information on their website for the signs of heart attack in addition to chest pain that we should be looking out for:
- Pain radiating to the arms, neck, jaw, stomach and back can all be symptoms of a heart attack.
- You may experience pain in just one or all of these places; for some people the pain is severe but for others just uncomfortable.
- A feeling of indigestion or reflux type pain – this is often ignored in the hope that it will pass.
- Feeling sick, sweaty, breathless or lightheaded with associated chest pain or discomfort
- A general feeling of being unwell or lethargic can also be an indicator of a heart attack when accompanied by chest pain or discomfort.
Heart attacks can happen to anybody no matter how healthy their lifestyle. If you, a friend or family member are suffering with chest pain or any of the symptoms listed above please seek medical attention as soon as possible.
If you have questions about misdiagnosis of heart attacks for our cardiac team, please get in touch with us today.
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