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Gaps between the sexes cost the lives of many women

Many women die unnecessarily from a heart attack

Strong inequalities in the perception, diagnosis and treatment of heart attacks mean that many women in the UK die unnecessarily every day. About it informs charity British Heart Foundation. German health experts also pointed to gender differences in heart attacks.

According to a British Heart Foundation (BHF) statement, research shows that in ten years, more than 8,200 women in England and Wales died because they were not treated like men. According to BHF, more lives are at risk because studies show that women suffering from heart attack symptoms are reluctant to seek help for a long time. The charity wants to end the perception of a heart attack as a male disease and encourages women to better understand the risk of heart attack and its symptoms.

Front view of an ambulance
In case of symptoms of a heart attack, an ambulance should be called immediately. Women often get different alert signals about their heart attack than men. (Photo: pattilabelle /

Heart attacks have never been so treatable

Dr. Sonya Babu-Narayan from BHF said: "Heart attacks have never been so curable. However, women die unnecessarily because heart attacks are often considered a male disease, and women do not receive the same standard of care as men. "BHF lists various problems:

ignorance: Women are often reluctant to seek medical help, which can reduce their chances of survival. A global systematic review showed that the average delay between the onset of symptoms and the onset in hospital in men is from 1 hour 24 minutes to 3 hours 30 minutes, in women from 1 hour 48 minutes to 7 hours 12 minutes.

misdiagnosis: Studies have shown that women who are 50% more likely to be falsely diagnosed have a heart attack. Both men and women who have been pre-diagnosed have a 70 percent higher risk of dying.

Malpractice: It is estimated that over 8,200 deaths from women in England and Wales in a decade could be prevented if they had the same standard of care as men. One study found that women are less likely to receive standard treatment, such as bypass surgery and stents.

Increased risk: Risk factors for heart disease are often more lethal for women. Smoking increases the risk of heart attack in women more than twice as much as in men, hypertension by 80 percent and type 2 diabetes by 50 percent.

Worse after treatment: Women often get worse after treatment after a heart attack. A study funded by BHF showed that women in England and Wales are less likely to take statins by 2.7% and 7.4% less often use beta-blockers, although they have been shown to be at risk of another heart attack or lower stroke.

Recognize the symptoms of a heart attack

"This problem is not only in the UK – studies around the world have also highlighted the difference in treatment between men and women," said Chris Gale, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Leeds and lead author of the cited study. "The differences in care are very small in themselves, but if we look at this for the whole UK population, it is a significant loss of life. We can do better. "

In Great Britain, twice as many women die from coronary heart disease – the causes of most heart attacks – than from breast cancer. According to Dr. Sonya, Babu-Narayan said there must be a change in public perceptions of women and heart attacks to better bridge the gender gap. "The assumption that women are not at risk of having a heart attack is incorrect and has proved fatal," said the doctor.

"We want to give women the opportunity to better understand their risk and learn about the many symptoms of a heart attack. When someone has a heart attack, every second counts. "The sooner people recognize their symptoms and call an ambulance, the greater the chances of recovery.

An old man is holding his chest because of a heart attack

5 signs of heart attack

Symptoms of a heart attack are sometimes not considered serious, but the following symptoms should always be taken seriously.

Other emergency signs

The German Heart Foundation also pointed out that heart attacks are by no means the sole concern of men and explains that women's heart attacks are often signaled by other alarm signals. In addition to the classic characteristics, such as chest pain, which can radiate to different parts of the body (for example, in the arms, upper abdomen, between the shoulder blades or back of the neck and jaw), heart attacks are more common in women than in men with visible so-called non-specific symptoms – for example, severe shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting or discomfort in the upper abdomen. "Especially when such symptoms occur in unprecedented violence, it's important to think about a heart attack," experts write.

Another peculiarity concerns women in the chest area. Instead of severe pain, it is more often oppression or oppression compared to men, but at least so serious must be taken. "Because any heart attack – regardless of the nature of the ailment – can cause sudden cardiac arrest at any time and without notice. At the slightest indication of a heart attack, 112 should be dialed immediately, "says the Heart Foundation. (Ad)


  • British Heart Foundation: The difference between men and women due to a heart attack costs women's lives (available: 30/09/2019), British Heart Foundation
  • German Heart Foundation: Heart attack: What do women need to know? (Call: 30/09/2019), German Heart Foundation

Important Note:
This article contains general information only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a doctor's visit.

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