Heart conditions among women in Wales are not being diagnosed due to systemic failures

According to a report by The British Heart Foundation Cymru (BHF Cymru), there is unconscious bias and systemic inequalities in healthcare which are leaving women at a disadvantage when it comes to heart disease.

The report highlighted that women are not being seen as at risk of heart disease.

Women are more likely to be misdiagnosed, less likely to receive optimal care and struggle to access cardiac rehabilitation.

Approximately 1,700 women are admitted to hospital in Wales every year with a heart attack, but BHF Cymru research suggested that only few were confident enough to recognise the signs. The charity said that heart and circulatory diseases kill 4,900 men and 4,400 women in Wales each year, but it is often seen as mainly affecting men.

Consultant cardiologist, Lena Izzat, warned that if action is not taken, Wales risks “an epidemic of heart failure and heart disease”.

Izzat added: “Women often wait longer before calling 999 after first experiencing heart attack symptoms and that delay can dramatically reduce the chance of survival.”

Diabetes, smoking and high blood pressure all raise the risk of heart attacks for women more than for men. Women are also more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms unrelated to chest pain, such as neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or upper belly discomfort, shortness of breath and pain in one or both arms.

The Welsh government is working to improve care, according to a spokesperson, who stated: “We are producing a women’s health quality statement to ensure services consider the specific needs of women and ensure timely, equitable access to diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation services in all aspects of healthcare in Wales.”