Heart Attacks in Women: Quick – what is... - British Heart Fou...

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Heart Attacks in Women

Quick – what is the most common cause of death for women in the US?

It’s actually heart disease. But thanks to years of being basically ignored in research, awareness of female heart disease and heart attacks is so bad that it now accounts for over one-fifth of all deaths in women.

New research published this week in the journal European Heart Journal: Acute Cardiovascular Care provides one reason for this. For somebody suffering a heart attack, time is critical, with faster treatment meaning more heart muscle saved, less heart failure in the future, and a lower risk of death. But according to the study, which looked at over 4,000 people over a period of 16 years, women are waiting about 37 minutes longer than men before they even contact medical services.

“Women having a heart attack seem to be less likely than men to attribute their symptoms to a condition that requires urgent treatment,” explained study author Matthias Meyer in a statement.

Meyer attributes this problem to heart disease’s long-standing reputation as a “man’s problem”. Not only are (particularly male) doctors unable to recognize heart attack symptoms in women – something that costs women their lives at a rate up to three times higher than men – but it seems women themselves don’t know what to look out for.

“Women and men have a similar amount of pain during a heart attack, but the location may be different,” Meyer explained. “People with pain in the chest and left arm are more likely to think it's a heart attack, and these are usual symptoms for men. Women often have back, shoulder, or stomach pain.”

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We were talking about this a couple of weeks ago and lots of responses confirm there is a definite male/female divide in how women are treated, or in the case of women not treated as often we are ignored or get a pat on the head and told its anxiety and it's generally the male doctors with that attitude.

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Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention. I had no pain, just a really uncomfortable heavy feeling and as I'd just been exerting myself cutting a hedge I thought it was muscular. I drove 35 miles before I spotted a sign for Airedale and went to A. and E. I waited about 5 seconds in a busy waiting room before I was whisked through and my care at Airedale , Leeds and Blackburn was fantastic. The stories from all the women I met proves the research. I didn't speak to anyone who had sought immediate treatment,-one woman waited 3 days.

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What about minimal or even no pain when heart muscle is dying? My only symptoms when my heart muscle was dying was fatigue and shortness of breath. Which I attributed to other health problems. Now the only reason my heart is still pumping is because of an ICD.

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"Quick – what is the most common cause of death for women in the US? It’s actually heart disease."

Maybe that's true in the US Jimmy, but here in Blighty that's not accurate. In 2015 heart disease was the biggest killer of men at about 160 deaths per 100,000 males. But the biggest killer of women was dementia and alzheimers. Heart disease accounted for 75 deaths per 100,000 females, so less than half the death rate of males.

Interestingly, if we look back over the past fifteen years we see both men and women have benefited from a huge decline in deaths from heart disease, but the decline in women's heart disease death rates is actually slightly higher than for men. So the NHS has massively improved how they deliver heart disease care for everyone, but they've done slightly better for women than for men. I'm not for one moment suggesting that anyone can be complacent about female cardiac care, but I am saying any discussion should be evidence driven.

You'll find lots of facts here,

gov.uk/government/publicati...

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telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/1...

But the treatment for women is generally very bad.

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Women are more likely to die after a cardiac event nor do they have access to the same level as care as men when they are living with heart function problems too. Women tend not to access to Cardiac Rehabilitation.

The BHF has recognised that women do not do as well as men following a heart attack

bhf.org.uk/informationsuppo...

Prof Chris Gale used statistics from the National Cardiac Audit Programme run by NICOR.

ucl.ac.uk/nicor

There is the evidence.

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I did access Cardiac rehab as the only women in the classes for quite a while. When I joined the after care classes at regular gyms, the experience was very negative. So I complained about the treatment I was experiencing from a couple of the male participants. While the gym apologised for their behaviour, I was the one who felt I could not remain. So maybe it is feeling vulnerable and not wishing to be put in that situation that puts women off attending.

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Unfortunately it is true in our area. Local statistics prove it is the main cause of death for women.

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Alzheimer's and dementia, another areas of sexist bias where women's cognitive pattern is not taken into account. By the time women are diagnosed, it's on the advance stage And she struggled to cope for so long with obvious symptoms. How sad is that?

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I haven't had a HA but had a bypass as I was at extreme risk of having one. I had symptoms such as breathlessness (thought is was the cold weather), tightness of the chest again thought the cold weather was to blame. I had also suffered with heart burn for a while. What bugs me is that there are a number of heartburn/indigestion ads on TV for reflux medication. There are no warnings about what it could be, such as heart related. I wonder how many other people are just taking indigestion tablets and it could be much worse. Should the BHF do a program of awareness around what to look for in both women and men. I know when I went to rehab everyone was different. Its not just the common misconception of left arm etc. I had a friend who had pain in her right arm!

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I had discomfort for 3 days before my husband called 111, they asked all sorts of questions and sent a paramedic to check me. He told me that the indigestion I thought I was suffering from was in fact heart related. Trip to A&E, an admission, a stent, drugs, and release. It was the cardio nurse when I started exercise rehab that told me I had in fact had a heart attack. Not sure how to feel about that!

Good to hear about other women's experiences, unfortunate that it is only after the event that we become aware of the differences in symptoms reported between men and women.

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I had no pain prior to my severe heart attack due to blocked artery . I saw two docs. and my blood tests, echocardiogram and bp. checks were all normal. But I was having severe breathless and weakness attacks and could hardly walk! They made me feel Iwas suffering from Stress! I complained afterwards and the head dr. said I did not fit their medical Textbooks! He thinks I am an interesting case! Definitely Women’s heart attack symptoms and pain are different from men and drs. need to take this on board. I was fortunate in that when the pain did hit I got rushed off straight to theatre for a

stent with no waiting and after 3 months have made a full recovery.

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If you have had bypass surgery you have at least 1 blocked arteries. I have had 5. I recommend that you watch the film "Forks Over Knives". It will show you that you can clear out your arteries. It is on a website of the same name, Netflix, YouTube. It is about medical dietary research, including a massive study of 800,000 Chinese people. You might find it helpful, I did.

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So the data on the UK government (supplied by CC) is not reflective of the realities faced by women?

It would be highly useful for the government to add this new factor (sexism / all forms of bias, either conscious or unconscious bias that exists in mainstream medicine), leading to female patients experiencing years of delays, obtaining the correct diagnosis along with resultant morbidities and premature deaths.

Message to UK government: Had these women obtained early interventions/prompt therapies, could her morbidity/death be avoided? Unconscious bias can indeed, kill.

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