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There are around 100,000 women in Scotland living with heart disease and it is one of the most common causes of death for women across the country. Despite this, heart attacks and heart disease are often underestimated and under-treated in women compared to men.
Women face serious inequalities in heart treatment, are less likely to recognise the symptoms of a heart attack and are often affected by extra risk factors like pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause.
Women can experience heart failure and heart attacks differently to men. This is often used to explain why fewer women are diagnosed in time.
However, the core symptoms are the same across sexes. People experiencing a heart attack, regardless of gender, often experience:
There is some evidence that women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, feeling or being sick, and jaw, shoulder, or back pain than men. More women than men also report that their chest pain was not severe, or was not the main symptom they noticed.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is vital that you call 999 immediately, even if you do not think you are in a high-risk category for heart attack. Acting fast saves lives!
There are some aspects of lifestyle that can cause more risk of heart problems in women. For example:
There are also several risk factors associated with female anatomy, hormones, and fertility.
Mum of two Catriona had a heart attack just as lockdown was beginning, and she felt anxious and on edge because the usual support wasn’t available.
“I was given booklets about diet and exercise when I was discharged home and I was told someone would be in touch, but I didn’t know when. I did feel quite isolated and I wasn’t confident about what to do next, so that’s why I phoned Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland.”
Catriona began talking to Wendy from our Advice Line and got the invaluable practical and emotional support she really needed.
“I feel like I can ask Wendy anything – even if it’s a daft question. And I know I could call her at any time if I feel worried. It is so reassuring to know she is there for me.”
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Women's Heart Health
You can make sure people with chest, heart or stroke in conditions Scotland get the support they need after returning home from hospital.
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This page was last updated on March 3, 2023 and is under regular review. If you feel anything is missing or incorrect, please contact email@example.com to provide feedback.