Word on Health

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Word On Women & Heart Disease

Our grateful thanks to the British Heart Foundation for the use of the information below   If you’d like further information and support on women and heart disease contact the British Heart Foundation (BHF) on on 0300 330 3311 or visit the BHF women and heart disease web page on www.bhf.org.uk/women.   

Heart disease is often thought of as a man's problem, but it is the biggest killer of women in the western world.  Statistically women are four times more likely to die from a heart problem than breast cancer.

Not everyone experiences all the symptoms we associate with heart disease, and the classic image of a heart attack can be quite different from the reality.

Nearly half a million women in the UK have had a heart attack -  A heart attack is life threatening. If you think you could be having one, it’s vital that you phone 999 right away. Don’t wait - every second counts.

What's it like to have a heart attack?  You won’t necessarily fall dramatically to the floor, clutching at your chest – you may instead experience one or a number of these symptoms:

  • chest pain or discomfort, which may spread to the arms, neck, jaw, stomach or back
  • a dull pain, ache or 'heavy' feeling in your chest
  • chest pain or discomfort which feels like indigestion but makes you feel generally unwell
  • feeling sick, sweaty, breathless, lightheaded, dizzy or generally unwell as well as pain or discomfort in your chest.

Angina   Nearly a million women suffer from angina, too - it’s a symptom of heart disease.

It often feels like a heaviness, tightness or dull persistent ache in your chest. It may spread to your arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach – or you may feel it in just one or some of these places. Symptoms vary from person to person. The pain can be severe or a mild discomfort and you may have trouble catching your breath.

Triggers include physical activity, emotional upset, cold weather or even after a meal.

When you get diagnosed, your doctor can prescribe medicines to prevent or relieve your symptoms.

Women (and men too!) can reduce their risk of developing CHD and maintain heart health by following these ten simple tips:

  • Stop smoking - smoking is a major cause of coronary heart disease
  • Keep the overall fat content in your diet low and reduce the saturated fat in your diet
  • Eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
  • Eat fish twice a week with one portion being oily fish
  • Cut the amount of salt in your diet
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Take regular physical activity - adults should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on five or more days of the week
  • Check if your family history of coronary heart disease is frequent and if so discuss this with your GP
  • Make sure you have your blood pressure checked by your GP or practice nurse. 

If you’d like further information and support on women and heart disease contact the British Heart Foundation (BHF) on on 0300 330 3311 or visit the BHF women and heart disease web page on www.bhf.org.uk/women.   

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.