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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > August 2018 > HEART DISEASE The ‘female’ signs you could be missing

HEART DISEASE The ‘female’ signs you could be missing

Heart disease affects the same number of women as men, but female chest pains are often misdiagnosed or passed off as panic attacks. Jo Waters reports on the hidden abnormality, often not picked up by routine tests, that is putting women’s lives at risk


Heart attacks don’t just happen to those stereotypical stressed-out middle-aged men with beer bellies. Women get them, too – with around 28,000 females dying from them every year, accounting for one in four of all deaths in women. Indeed, the number of women visiting hospital with heart and circulatory disease soared by 93,000 a year in the 10 years to 2016 to 642,000.

But there are fears that women with heart disease are getting a raw deal. They’re often diagnosed later and studies have shown that, when they’re diagnosed, women are less likely than men to get the correct treatments.

‘Fewer of the thousands of women who suffer a heart attack each year would die if they were given the same treatment as men,’ says Chris Gale, professor of cardiovascular medicine and honorary consultant cardiologist at the University of Leeds.

Chris led a British Heart Foundation (BHF) study at the university, which found that in the first year after heart attack, some groups of women had up to a threefold increased risk of excessmortality (deaths over and above what is expected) compared with men.

When they suffered a heart attack where a coronary artery was completely blocked by a clot, it was found women were less likely to be taken to the type of hospital where the clot could be cleared or receive procedures to clear it. Worryingly, women also had a 50% higher chance of receiving an incorrect diagnosis after a heart attack than a man. ‘Women are less likely to get an ECG reading in an ambulance, too. These may be marginal discrepancies in treatment, but they all add up to make a difference,’ says Chris.

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About Healthy Food Guide

We put the record straight on carbs (yes, you can and should eat them if you want to lose weight) - with our expert guide on choosing the right types and making clever swaps. We've also got everything you need for a healthy holiday, from time-saving beauty hacks to help you look and feel great while you're away to a rundown of the healthcare apps to trust. And our easy, light, delicious recipes will help you make the most of those warm summer evenings with friends…