Are you heading for a heart attack?
WOMAN - UK|November 30, 2021
Heart disease is the biggest killer of women, but you may be overlooking your body’s warning signs...
DR PHILIPPA KAYE

Don’t skip your check-up

The NHS health check is offered to people over the age of 40 without health conditions. It involves checking your body mass index, blood pressure, as well as tests for diabetes and high cholesterol. Among other things, it aims to pick up conditions which could lead to an increased risk of heart disease, so that they can be treated if required.

If you think about someone having a heart attack, you’re likely to imagine a man who smokes, is obese, and who’s in his 60s or above, right? That’s because it’s a common misconception that heart attacks and coronary heart disease are conditions which only affect men.

Actually, in the UK, more than twice as many women die from coronary heart disease as they do from breast cancer. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in women all over the world and in the UK, around 100 women are admitted to hospital each day after a heart attack.

That’s 35,000 women per year! Coronary heart disease (CHD) causes most heart attacks. There are more than 800,000 women who have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease (also called ischaemic heart disease) in the UK.

With CHD, the blood vessels become narrower than usual due to a build-up of fatty deposits in the blood vessel walls. This process is called atherosclerosis and means that your heart has to work harder to pump the blood to your organs through these narrowed vessels.

If the arteries become too narrow, eventually the supply of blood to the heart may be restricted. Then, if a piece of fatty build-up, called an atheroma, breaks off, it can lead to a blood clot which blocks the coronary artery, meaning that blood and oxygen can’t reach the heart muscle, leading to a heart attack.

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