The 2018 Heart Report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation says women’s hearts are still misunderstood by the healthcare system.
The report found that up to 78 per cent of women’s early heart attack signs are missed. Vice President of Advocacy Health and Research Kate Chidester says men and women have the same amount of risk to develop heart conditions, but women are at an additional risk because of their physiology.
“Diseases such as heart failure, atrial fibrillation and valve disease do affect women differently and it’s important that we put emphasis into learning about that.”
Chidester also has first hand experience because she suffers from a heart condition called arrhythmia. She says it could have been missed without her asking a nurse about it during another appointment.
“It was stumbled upon. I was in the emergency department with something completely different, a sinus infection and I felt really unwell and I knew something was wrong.”
Chidester asked the nurse to check her heart because of her symptoms.
“The registered nurse did make sure that I had an ECG and it was the first step of tests that I needed to discover that I had an arrhythmia that can cause sudden cardiac death.”
The report suggests many women are unaware of their own symptoms mainly because they are not as dramatic as a man’s.
“If they have non pain signs like nausea or sudden fatigue or shortness of breath, which are often more reported by women. We’re more likely to delay getting to emergency and once there, we are less likely to get the fast aggressive treatment that men might get.”
Chidester says 2/3 of research is focused on men. The data also states that women are also less likely to receive care from a cardiologist and says treatments are less beneficial and more risky.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation will be working on raising funds for heart disease research for women.