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Heart Disease Risk Goes Unrecognised by Women
Despite Killing Four Times More Women than Breast Cancer

… IPSOS MORI Survey Identifies a need for increased awareness and prevention…

JULY 2006   Download full press release

80 per cent of all women aged 35+ do not consider themselves at risk of developing heart disease, even though it affects one in six UK women and kills 47,000 women a year – almost four times higher than breast cancer (1,2).  Results of a nationwide survey were presented at the first Her at Heart Symposium on cardiovascular disease in women, at the Royal College of Physicians, London(3) which is part of an initiative to highlight the challenges in identifying and managing heart disease in women.

One in ten ‘do not understand at all ’ how to protect themselves from heart disease(1), according to the nationally representative sample of women over 35 years of age interviewed by IPSOS MORI.  If left untreated, heart disease escalates, leaving women at a greater risk of premature death.

Women tend to present with more non specific symptoms compared to men.  As well as the typical crushing chest pain in the centre of the chest, women can have other symptoms including shortness of breath, neck and jaw pain, upper back pain, abdominal pain, nausea and fatigue. 

According to the survey, women from Asian communities were the least concerned about the risk of developing heart disease but are the most likely to develop CVD, with a premature death rate of 51 per cent higher than average(1,2).
“Women and doctors need to work together to prevent Britain’s biggest female killer going untreated,” comments Dr Ghada Mikhail, consultant cardiologist at Northwest London Hospitals and St Mary’s Trust. “I regularly see women in clinic whose quality of life has been severely affected by heart disease, a situation which could have been prevented had the condition been identified earlier,” continues Dr Mikhail.

“Women need to be aware of the risk of heart disease and modify their risk factors early in life.  They need to stop smoking and have their cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels tested.  They need to eat healthily and exercise regularly.
“Furthermore, women who are at risk of heart disease and who think they may have symptoms, need to present to their doctor so they can be investigated and receive effective treatment without delay.  There is no doubt that treatment is more effective when the disease is identified in the early stages.” 

“Women need to wake up to the risks of heart disease and take action to protect themselves.  By simply making a few lifestyle changes now, women will be able to guard themselves and their families from CVD in later life,” comments Eve Knight, Chief Executive of Healthy Heart UK, a charity that lobbies for better patient awareness of CVD.

1. The research was conducted by the Global Omnibus services team at Ipsos MORI. A nationally representative sample of 663 women aged 35+ were interviewed.  Funded by a educational grant from Cordis, a Johnson & Johnson company.

2. British Heart Foundation Statistics database, May 2006

3. 7 July 2006


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