Health tip of the week
Learn the danger signs of female heart attack
Cardiovascular disease – mainly heart attack and stroke – is one of the greatest health threats to women in Ireland, yet research carried out by the Irish Heart Foundation showed that fewer than one in five Irish women were aware of this.
During the Pfizer Healthy Town initiative, experts from the Irish Heart Foundation will be on hand to offer advice to both men and women about how to recognise the symptoms of a heart problem. But while most people are aware of the classic signs of a heart attack, many don’t realise that women may present differently and it is vital for them to know what to look out for in order to get medical help as quickly as possible.
Dr Angie Brown, medical director of the Irish Heart Foundation, offers some simple advice on how to spot the danger signs.
“It can be very hard to diagnose,” she says. “Rather than the classic version where someone is seen clutching their chest, the symptoms of a heart attack in women can be quite vague and include nausea, tiredness, shortness of breath, back pain or tightness in the jaw – rather than the familiar scenario of a pain in the chest that shoots down one arm.
“Irish research shows that one of the reasons many women die from heart attack is they delay in getting to the emergency department. So one of the most important messages is to advise women experiencing these symptoms not to delay – call 999 for an ambulance and get to the emergency department immediately.”
Research has also highlighted that doctors too have a role in recognising that women may have heart problems. And they should make all women aware that factors such as smoking, being overweight or obese, having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being inactive, having diabetes or a family history of heart problems all increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. www.irishheart.ie