More than 8,000 women died ‘needlessly’ from heart attacks due to gender inequality, says British Heart Foundation

Research funded by the leading charity has found that more than 8,000 women died between 2002 and 2013 in England and Wales because they did not receive the same standard of care as their male counterparts.

Women are dying needlessly of heart attacks because of the incorrect perception that they mostly happen to males, according to the British Heart Foundation. This perception reportedly lead to females taking longer to be diagnosed than men – and then receiving the necessary heart attack treatment and aftercare needed to survive much later too, according to the heart health charity.

The BHF estimate that two women die every day due to the ‘heart attack gender gap’, which seems a huge inequality in treatment of heart attacks between the sexes.

Research funded by the leading charity has found that more than 8,000 women died between 2002 and 2013 in England and Wales because they did not receive the same standard of care as their male counterparts.

The BHF explained that heart attacks are seen generally as a ‘man’s disease’, meaning treatment is not equal between the sexes.

Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, a consultant cardiologist and associate medical director of the BHF said, “Heart attacks have never been more treatable. Yet women are dying needlessly because heart attacks are often seen as a man’s disease, and women don’t receive the same standard of treatment as men.’

Heart attacks

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Meanwhile, the BHF have also reported that even some doctors wrongly believe that the symptoms women experience when suffering a heart attack are different to those of men.

As such, the foundation are launching a campaign to end the gender inequity surrounding the perception of heart attack risk.

MORE: Heart attack symptoms in women – do you know the signs?

The BHF report says, “Public understanding of women and heart attacks is beset by misperceptions. These are dangerous when they mean a woman doesn’t recognise the symptoms of her heart attack and delays seeking and receiving medical help.

‘That is why we need to raise awareness of heart attack among women: the longer treatment for a heart attack is delayed, the greater the chance of permanent damage to the heart.

Women are 50% more likely to get an incorrect diagnosis than men. Someone having a heart attack who is initially wrongly diagnosed has a 70% higher risk of death after 30 days than someone who gets the correct diagnosis.

Women are also less likely to get the right treatment fast enough and are less likely to receive sufficient aftercare, such as medication to prevent a second heart attack.

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Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan continued, saying, “We want to empower women to better understand their risk and to know the many symptoms of a heart attack. When someone has a heart attack – every second counts. The sooner people recognise their symptoms and call 999, the better their chance of recovery.

She also explained that more research is need too, as is a raising of national awareness.

Heart attack symptoms:

You can take a look at the symptoms of heart attacks in depth on the NHS website here.

But the main heart attack symptoms include:

  • Chest pain
  • Pain in other parts of your body – normally your left arm
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling light-headed or dizzy

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, contact 999 immediately.