Heart disease is not just a male affliction, but one that affects women too. Surveys investigating health concerns in women consistently show that women primarily fear cancer, in particular breast cancer, and yet cardiovascular disease is responsible for 26% of all female deaths versus 4% for breast cancer. Indeed in the UK in 2014 there were 76,399 deaths from cardiovascular disease, 27,799 deaths from coronary heart disease, and only 11,360 deaths from breast cancer. Despite these figures many women still do not appreciate their cardiovascular risk.
The prevalence of heart attack increases with age and is higher in men than in women, and there are clear gender differences in the manifestation, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. Women are more likely to present with chest pain and angina rather than a heart attack, but the diagnosis can be more elusive in women; the nature of the chest pain is not always characteristic and certainly women have been less likely than men to undergo investigation for heart disease and receive treatment such as stenting and bypass surgery. Fortunately matters are improving but it has taken many years.