WHEN you try to imagine a heart attack, chances are your see a man clinging to his chest.
But heart attacks are actually the leading cause of death for women in the UK – killing 77 women each day.
And women are 50 per cent more likely to be wrongly diagnosed when it comes to coronary problems that men, according to the British Heart Foundation.
Many women have their heart attacks dismissed as other conditions, such as anxiety, heartburn or ‘a funny turn’.
One study, has found that almost 40 per cent of women experience indigestion before a heart attack.
A symptom which could also be easily dismissed. as something minor.
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In early research published in the journal Circulation, researchers discovered indigestion was a common occurrence in women in the month leading up to their cardiac event.
Around 39 percent of the cohort reported indigestion before the heart attack.
However, indigestion was not common during the heart attack itself.
The aim of the study was to accurately describe the women’s coronary heart disease symptoms in order to provide a complete picture of the warning signs.
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"The current description of 'typical' cardiac symptoms is based primarily on the experience of white, middle-aged men," the researchers explained.
The experts said this "contributes to misunderstandings in clinicians and lay individuals, leads to inaccurate diagnosis, and causes women to delay seeking treatment".
The researchers stated that in earlier research, they had found that between 85 to 90 percent of women identifiedseveral different symptoms in the period leading up to a heart attack.
What does indigestion feel like?
Most people have indigestionat some point. Usually, it’s not a sign of anything serious and you can easily treat it yourself
Indigestion can be felt in different ways.
You can have the following symptoms after eating or drinking:
- heartburn – a painful burning feeling in the chest, often after eating
- feeling full and bloated
- feeling sick
- burping and farting
- bringing up food or bitter-tasting fluids into your mouth
The five most common symptoms women reported experiencing in the month before the event was:
- Unusual fatigue (71 per cent)
- Sleep disturbance (48 per cent)
- Shortness of breath (42 per cent)
- Indigestion (39 per cent)
- Anxiety (36 per cent)
During the heart attack, women reported having:
- Shortness of breath (58 per cent)
- Weakness (55 per cent)
- Unusual fatigue (43 per cent)
- Cold sweat (39 per cent)
- Dizziness (39 per cent)
What you can do to cut your risk
Ruth Goss, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, says there are lots of things we can all do to lower our risk of heart disease:
- MAINTAIN HEALTHY WEIGHT: This improves your heart and circulatory health. Make small, achievable, long-term changes, such as reducing portion sizes and being more physically active.
- GET MOVING: It’s really important for your heart health to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week.
- This could be brisk walking, gardening, cycling or playing sports. Break it down into small sessions that suit you.
- MANAGE BLOOD PRESSURE: If you have high blood pressure, it’s vital to keep to a healthy weight, stop smoking, cut down on salt and alcohol, stay physically active and take prescribed medication.
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- HEALTHY CHOLESTEROL: Too much “bad” or LDL cholesterol can raise your risk of developing heart or circulatory disease. You can help to manage your cholesterol levels by limiting the amount of saturated fat you eat, being more active and following a healthy, balanced diet.
- QUIT SMOKING: Giving up smoking is the single biggest thing you can do to help your heart. Smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared with those who have never smoked.
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