Heart attack: Woman and heart attacks on the rise and unaware of symptoms
Heart attacks are a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. The longer the blockage is left untreated, the more the heart muscle is damaged and if the blood flow is not restored quickly, the damage to the heart muscle may be permanent. Knowing the symptoms of heart attacks are vital and a woman’s symptoms can differ from “classic” crushing chest pain for men.
Many are aware that heart attacks are something men need to be concerned about, but there is a huge misconception among woman that they aren’t at risk
Doctor Sarah Brewer
Millions of women are unaware of their risk of heart attacks as many believe only men suffer from these fatal cardiac arrests.
However, official figures show there are more than 800,000 woman in the UK living with coronary heart disease which is the leading cause of heart attacks.
Each year in the UK, around 35,000 woman are admitted to hospital following a heart attack which is an average of 98 woman a day, or four per hour.
Doctor Sarah Brewer said: “Many are aware that heart attacks are something men need to be concerned about, but there is a huge misconception among woman that they aren’t at risk.
“Not only is this wrong, but it could be the difference between life and death for some if they don’t take symptoms or the risk of heart attack seriously.
Signs of a heart attack in woman:
- Chest pain or discomfort in the chest that doesn’t go away
- Pain that spreads to the left or right arm
- Feeling sick, sweaty or light-headed
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive coughing or wheezing
The study also found that just 87 per cent of women associate chest pains or discomfort with having a heart attack, while only 57 per cent recognise profuse and unexplained sweating as a possible symptom.
Doctor Ameet Bakhai, consultant cardiologist at The Spire Bushey Hospital said: “The risk of women having a heart attack increases for woman once they have gone through the menopause due in part to a reduction in oestrogen.
“Woman are also not aware that they have a higher chance of suffering from a heart attack if their male partner has had a heart attack.
“This is because wives often have the same behavioural risk factors and environmental factors such as smoking or sedentary lifestyle”
The other causes of heart attacks in woman is due to having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight or having to look after their husband dying or surviving a heart attack which triggers anxiety and depression.
Doctor Bakhai suggests ways to reduce a woman’s risk by:
- Reducing stress in your life
- Cutting back on cigarettes
- Cutting down on alcohol
- Taking the correct supplements
“Regular check-ups and screening is vital and the Healthspan survey showed that 69 per cent of people who took the survey were already on a station to lower their cholesterol.
“Many people self-medicate due to the side effects of statins which isn’t always without risk but there are solutions that research has shown can counteract the muscular aches and fatigue that some patients experience.”
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