Heart disease and heart attacks are often perceived as being an older man’s disease, however heart disease is the single biggest killer of Australian women.
Over 4,000 women died of a heart attack in Australia in 2013 – that’s one woman every 2 hours!
Learn the facts about women and heart attack
Did you know that heart disease is the single biggest killer of Australian women? And that three times as many women die of heart disease than breast cancer?
If you are a woman over 40 and living in Australia, your chance of having a heart attack before the age of 70 is one in three; if you are a woman who smokes, your chance increases to one in two – which is the same chance as for men.
The risk of heart disease increases once women reach menopause and it kills more women than lung cancer, breast cancer and colorectal cancer combined. Despite this, very few Australian women are aware that heart disease is their number one killer. If awareness is low, then women are less likely to see the relevance of taking action to improve their heart health.
Heart attack warning signs
It is important to understand that warning signs can vary from person to person and they may not always be sudden or severe. Most people recognise chest pain as a warning sign of heart attack – which is important because chest pain is one of the most common symptoms.
However, a recent study has shown that 40% of women can experience a heart attack without chest pain. Instead women may experience other warning signs such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Back pain
- Simply unexplained tiredness and fatigue.
Women often think that these warning signs are less life threatening conditions such as indigestion and don’t take prompt action to call Triple Zero (000).
Quite scarily, a heart attack may not be what you think. It’s important for every woman to learn and understand the warning signs and be prepared. Importantly, the simple behaviour of following an action plan gives you the best chance of survival. Don’t delay, if you think you’re having a heart attack, call Triple Zero (000), as treatment starts from the time you call and every minute counts so don’t delay.
We know that women are more likely to call an ambulance for their husbands than themselves. This inaction and delay may be one of reasons why women are more likely than men to die from a heart attack or have long term related health problems.
Women and heart disease statistics:
- Heart disease is the single biggest killer of Australian women claiming 24 lives each day. 2
- Heart disease kills more than three times as many women as breast cancer
- 90% of women have at least one risk factor for heart disease and 50% have two or three3
Heart Attack statistics:
- 11 Australian women die each day from a heart attack, that’s one woman every 2 hours.
- More than 48,000 women are hospitalised with heart disease each year.
- Total healthcare expenditure on women with heart disease was less than half of that spent on men ($1.365 bn was spent on men vs $663m on women).