Heart disease: not just a man’s problem

From ABC Health and Wellbeing, 7 August 2014:

Picture someone having a heart attack, and most likely, the image you see is of an older man, clutching his chest and wincing.

What you’re less likely to picture is a younger woman, maybe in her forties, with some shortness of breath, struggling with fatigue, complaining about an ache in her jaw or her arm but deciding not to go to the doctor because she doesn’t have chest pain.

But we need to shift our thinking as heart disease is the number one killer of women in Australia. Each day it claims the lives of 25 Australian women – three times as many as breast cancer. Also women are more likely to die from a heart attack than men (more men than women have heart attacks, but men are much more likely to survive).

Yet there is clear evidence that women are less likely than men to go to a doctor when they have symptoms, less likely to be correctly diagnosed when they are having a heart attack, and less likely to receive the recommended treatment.

One reason is the general lack of awareness around heart disease risk factors, an issue for men and women. Heart Foundation data suggest many women don’t know high blood pressure and high cholesterol are risk factors, although one in three adult women has high cholesterol (90 per cent of them don’t know it) and one in four aged over 35 has high blood pressure (only a third of them know). Read more.

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