Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of death in the UK. Heart and circulatory diseases cause approximately 170,000 deaths each year. Approximately one in twelve women die from coronary heart disease compared to one in seven men. Coronary heart disease kills more than twice as many women in the UK as breast cancer.
British Heart Foundation
There are a number of risk factors which can increase the likelihood of developing heart disease. These include, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, family history of heart disease and lack of exercise. Post menopausal women also have a higher risk of developing heart disease compared to pre menopausal women. It is important that women attempt to modify their risk factors early in life in order to reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Women are more likely to present with atypical symptoms compared to men. As well as chest pain, women can present with shortness of breath, neck and jaw pain, upper back pain, abdominal pain, nausea and fatigue. In addition, because of decreased awareness, women are still less likely to seek medical help when they have symptoms.
There is no doubt that better education and awareness as well as more aggressive control of risk factors is desperately needed to tackle this potentially fatal disease.