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Inequalities in Heart Attack Care ‘Costing Women’s Lives’

Women who suffer heart attacks are dying needlessly because they fail to recognise their symptoms and receive poorer care than men, says a British Heart Foundation report.

Experts say there are inequalities in diagnosis, treatment and aftercare.

“Unconscious biases are limiting the survival chances of women,” the report warns.

It found that some commonly held myths – such as heart disease and heart attacks only affecting men – meant women were unaware of their risk, and slow to seek medical help.

There is also a misperception that men and women experience completely different heart attack symptoms, but studies suggest that although symptoms can vary from person to person, chest pain is the most common symptom in both men and women.

The report found that:

  • women often delayed seeking help
  • they were more likely to receive an incorrect diagnosis and substandard treatment compared to men
  • risk factors, such as smoking and high blood pressure, increase heart attack chances more in women
  • the quality of aftercare was also substandard

What are heart attack symptoms?

Heart attack symptoms can vary from person to person, but the most common signs of a heart attack are:

  • Central chest pain or discomfort in your chest which suddenly occurs and doesn’t go away
  • It may feel like pressure, tightness or squeezing
  • Pain which radiates down your left arm, or both arms, or to your neck, jaw, back or stomach
  • Feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath

Source: By Dominic Hughes Health correspondent,

BBC Health News, September 30, 2019

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