Women and Heart Disease

It is commonly believed that heart disease mainly affects men, however cardiovascular disease kills as many men as it does women. 

>> Download your FREE information pack on Women and Heart Disease. 

Know the facts

Coronary heart disease kills more than twice as many women as breast cancer in the UK.

Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) refers to reduced blood supply to the heart caused by fatty deposits in the coronary arteries. 1

There are 900,000 women living in the UK with CHD.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) can lead to  angina or heart attack. 1

Over 450,000 women in the UK have had a heart attack.

Over 555,000 women in the UK have had a stroke.​1

Janelle has felt the impact of cardiovascular disease first hand.

Janelle, a supporter of HRI, lost her mother to a heart attack in 2003. 

Her mother had suffered from severe headaches over a period of time, however “no-one ever gave much thought to the possibility that her heart was the problem as she didn’t fit the stereotype for heart disease. She was slimly built and had a low level of ‘the bad’ cholesterol. No-one considered it may have been an anomaly in blood flow to her head that was causing her headaches.”

Knowing the risk factors

More than half of all women in the UK are either overweight or obese and less than a third of women in England do enough physical activity to protect their heart. One in five women in the UK smoke. 

Risk factors like these are precursers to cardiovascular disease.

Stopping smoking is the single most important thing you can do to improve your heart health. Women who smoke have nearly twice the risk of having a heart attack, compared with women who have never smoked. 

Getting active is one way of cutting your risk of CHD, while also helping lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol level, control your weight and reduce your risk of diabetes. Eating a healthy diet will help you protect your heart. 

Heart attack in women

Symptoms and signs

When a heart attack strikes, it doesn’t always feel the same in women as in men. Women don't always get the same “classic” heart attack symptoms such as crushing chest pain that radiates down one arm. Those heart attack symptoms can certainly happen to women, but many experience “silent” symptoms that they may miss.

These symptoms are common in women:

  • Chest pain or discomfort

  • Pain in your arms, back, neck, or jaw

  • Stomach pain

  • Shortness of breath, nausea, or lightheadedness.

  • Sweating

  • Fatigue

How our research is saving lives

Our Vascular Immunology Group has discovered that the severity of high blood pressure or hypertension in expectant mothers - preeclampsia - impacts on high blood pressure later in life. These findings will allow women to better manage their risk of circulation and heart problems in future. 

1 British Heart Foundation, Women and heart disease Booklet, Published: 01/10/2013
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