Heart attacks are leading to unnecessary deaths in women. A health charity, namely the British Heart Foundation (BHF) stated that 2 women a day are dying in England and Wales. The reason behind it is the gender gap in awareness, knowledge, diagnosis, and treatment.
BHF also reported in research released on Monday that between the years 2003 and 2013, 8200 women died. This happened because these women received poor treatment as compared to men for the same disease.
The reason behind the statistics
There is a misconception that heart diseases are more related to males. BHF wants to make females know more about the symptoms and risks of heart diseases. Currently, in the UK, the deaths of women due to coronary heart disease are twice than deaths from breast cancer.
BHF said that women get substandard treatments for heart diseases. They suffer from a 50% rate of misdiagnosis. This greatly increases their rates of death.
Furthermore, some risk factors for heart diseases are particularly dangerous for women. High blood pressure, diabetes and tobacco smoking increase heart attack rates in women more than men.
In a global review, the reporters state that women are slower in seeking medical help than men.
For men, the time between symptoms appearance and reaching the hospital varies from almost 1 and a half hour to 3 hours and 30 minutes. However, for women, it varies from 1 hour and 48 minutes to 7 hours and 12 minutes.
The symptoms for heart attack are varied. These include chest pain, sweating, feeling ill, light-headedness and shortness of breath. Some less common symptoms include an abrupt feeling of anxiety, excessive coughing, and wheezing.
Women receive substandard treatment for heart diseases
Dr. Sonya Babu Narayan is the associate medical director at BHF. She said that today, heart attacks are very treatable. However, women are still dying of it due to poor treatment.
The main reason is that heart attacks are usually referred to as men’s diseases. Thus, women receive substandard treatment as compared to men.
BHf’s study shows that women receive unequal medical care at each step of their disease journey. From prevention, through diagnosis and medical care, to the treatment, we must change the whole system.
BHF also stated that women, following a heart attack, receive poor aftercare facilities. A BHF-funded study showed that in the UK, women receive 2.7% less prescription of statins.
Similarly, they are 7.4% less likely prescribed beta-blockers while leaving the hospitals. Despite the facts about these medications’effect on decreasing the risk of subsequent heart attacks, they are not prescribed to women.
Dr. Chris Gale, the lead author of this study, said that this problem is not present only in the UK. The gender gap in treatments is present all over the globe. This problem is deeply established and a complex issue.
The BHF states that the hospitals admit almost 35,000 women per annum after a heart attack in the UK. This goes on average 98 women per day.
BHF wants to convince the policymakers and health care professionals to put light on how to address this issue.