Women urged to look out for small sign of a heart attack
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Women are being warned to look out for a little-known sign of a heart attack after new research found that women are not aware of their risk of developing coronary heart disease. Watch the campaign video below:
The key risk factors for coronary heart disease are alcohol, smoking, a poor diet, lack of physical activity, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and obesity.
Women may also be at greater risk during the menopause due to declining levels of oestrogen.
One small symptom of a heart attack is easy to miss, and 72 percent of people surveyed did not associate it with heart disease.
A new survey by the HER Disease campaign found that 72 percent of women are not aware that having an overwhelming feeling of anxiety is a symptom for a heart attack.
Sally Bee, a motivational speaker and healthy cook was initially misdiagnosed when she suffered her first of five heart attacks at the age of 36.
Describing the feeling of anxiety as she suffered the heart attack, she said: “I had a feeling of impending doom, as if a big black cloud was looming over me.
“I understood immediately that something very serious was happening to me and that it was beyond my control.
“I collapsed on the floor, feeling as if my chest was being crushed and struggling to breathe. I felt sick and hot and sweaty.”
She was sent home from the hospital with indigestion tablets after the ambulance crew only identified a slight abnormality to her heart rhythm.
However, it's important to remember the difference between an anxiety attack and a heart attack.
While both have similar symptoms, such as a shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, sweating and a sense of dread, a heart attack feels different.
Physical indicators of a heart attack may include:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Discomfort in the oesophagus which may feel like indigestion.
- An aching or shooting pain that moves down the arm
- Pain that moves into the jaw area
- Pain or discomfort between the shoulder blades.
If you experience symptoms call 999 immediately. A responder can help you establish the difference between the two.
It’s important for people to be aware of heart attack symptoms and risk factors to ensure they don’t delay seeking urgent medical help.
Of the 2,000 adults questioned for Heart Research UK's survey, 37 percent of women said they have never had their cholesterol checked, while 73 percent of women are unaware that coronary heart disease caused more deaths than breast cancer each year.
Meanwhile, 60 percent of women don’t know that the risk of coronary heart disease increases after menopause.
Kate Bratt-Farrar, Chief Executive at Heart Research UK, says: “Our survey shows that women still have a limited awareness of their risk of developing CHD, with nearly two fifths never having had their cholesterol levels checked.
“We want to encourage women to know the risk factors of CHD and their own heart health.
“It is also absolutely imperative that everyone is aware of the symptoms of heart attack, both the key symptoms such as chest pain, but also other ones like having an overwhelming feeling of anxiety.
"Our survey shows that in East of England, 72 percent of the respondents are not aware this is a symptom of heart attack.
“We’re very proud of our HER Disease campaign, which hopefully will raise more awareness of how women are affected by heart disease and help save more women’s lives.”
You can find out more about the HER campaign on the Heart Research website here.