Did you know there is even a gender gap when it comes to coronary heart disease?

Breast cancer or heart disease - which is the biggest killer of women?

Research done by the British Heart Foundation reveals a surprising statistic: coronary heart disease kills twice as many women as breast cancer in the UK.

According to Harvard Medical School, within a year of a first heart attack, survival rates are lower in women than in men. Within five years, 47% of the women may die, develop heart failure, or suffer from a stroke - compared with only 36% of the men who have suffered a first heart attack.

Sadly gender inequality does impact heart attack fatalities

This could be partly due to gender inequality in terms of awareness, diagnosis and treatment.

“Heart attacks have never been more treatable. Yet women are dying needlessly because heart attacks are often seen as a man’s disease, and women don’t receive the same standard of treatment as men. The studies detailed in this briefing have revealed inequalities at every stage of a woman’s medical journey," says Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, British Heart Foundation's Associate Medical Director.

This has been reinforced by a study conducted by University of Leeds where it was revealed that, over a 10-year period, more than 8,200 heart attack deaths among women in England and Wales could have been prevented if they had received equal treatment to men.

Heart attack inequalities

The British Heart Foundation's briefing, 'Bias and Biology', revealed that:

  • women are less likely to recognize symptoms of a heart attack than men
  • a woman is 50% more likely than a man to receive the wrong diagnosis
  • women are less likely than men to receive life saving treatments
  • women are less likely to be given medicine to stop a second heart attack

Spot the symptoms

Awareness and education of the symptoms of heart attacks in women is essential for preventing fatalities. The British Heart Foundation lists the following as signs and symptoms of a heart attack in women:

  • chest pain or discomfort that happens suddenly and persists, like pressure, tightness or squeezing
  • pain can then spread to the left or right arm or to the neck, jaw, back or stomach 
  • sickness, sweating, light-headedness or shortness of breath
  • sudden anxiety similar to that of a panic attack
  • excessive coughing or wheezing

heart attack women

American Heart Association highlights the key difference between the symptoms in men compared to women: although men and women can experience chest pressure, women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure.

Make changes today to prevent heart disease

American Heart Association suggests the following for preventing or lessening the chances of suffering a heart attack:

  • learn more from a doctor about your personal risk of heart disease
  • quit smoking
  • increase exercising
  • eat healthier

Healthy eating

Heart attack is preventable in women - and it is important to make life-changing decisions today to help promote a healthier life for tomorrow.


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