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Heart attack death rates higher for women because of gender gap in care, charity says

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Heart attack death rates higher for women because of gender gap in care, charity says
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U.S. Air Force/Samuel Eckholm
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As many as two women every day die needlessly from heart attacks in England and Wales because they don't receive the same care and treatment as men, new research has found.

More than 8,200 women lost their lives between 2002 and 2013 in England and Wales to heart attacks, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) revealed on Monday.

According to the charity, women having a heart attack delay seeking medical help longer than men because they don't recognise the symptoms. A woman is also 50% more likely than a man to receive the wrong initial diagnosis for the heart attack.

Furthermore, women are less likely than men to receive a number of potentially life-saving treatments in a timely way or to be prescribed medication following a heart attack to help prevent a second one.

The charity flagged that "underlying all of this is a common misconception that coronary heart disease and heart attack is a man's disease."

Jeremy Pearson, a BHF associate medical director, said in a statement that "heart attacks are often seen as a male health issue, but more women die from coronary heart disease than breast cancer in the UK."

"We need to change this harmful misconception because it is leading to avoidable suffering and loss of life," he added.

Risk factors for heart attacks — including high blood pressure and cholesterol levels as well as smoking, obesity and diabetes — are often more deadly for women.

Smoking, for instance, increases the risk of heart attack in women up to twice as much as men, high blood pressure by 80%, while the risk of type 2 diabetes is 50% higher.

Cardiovascular diseases killed 1.9 million people in the European Union in 2015, according to the European Commission, making it the leading cause of mortality and a major cause of morbidity in the bloc.

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