Associate Feature: Time to act to improve women’s heart health
‘Heart disease is a man’s problem’ - a common perception which contributes to women underestimating their risk and therefore, being less likely to recognise symptoms and seek help, which can ultimately cost lives.
Ischaemic heart disease is a leading cause of death in women in Scotland. But many women are still not aware of this, and polling shows that many are more worried about their risk of breast cancer, despite ischaemic heart disease killing nearly three times as many women in Scotland.
That’s why BHF Scotland has campaigned in recent years for action to close the gender gap in cardiovascular disease outcomes in Scotland. It is also why we welcomed the inclusion of heart health as a priority area of the Women’s Health Plan in 2021.
There have been welcome steps taken since the plan launched, including the Scottish Government’s new awareness campaign which highlights how common heart disease is for women and the appointment of Professor Anna Glasier OBE as the first Women’s Health Champion.
But some patients are still telling us their stories of issues in being diagnosed and treated for heart disease. For example, we know that sadly some women are being dismissed when presenting at their GP or A&E with cardiac symptoms and can instead be told they are experiencing anxiety or stress.
At every stage, from experiencing symptoms, through to cardiac rehabilitation, women can face disadvantage.
Prioritising the implementation of the Women’s Health Plan is crucial. To address the disparities in cardiac care that women can experience, a concerted effort is needed to look at every aspect of how we treat heart disease across the pathway.
That’s why it needs all of us to ensure gender does not define a person’s chance of surviving heart disease.
Denise McAnena is Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager for British Heart Foundation Scotland
This article is sponsored by BHF.
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