Recently, an article in the Guardian highlighted some of the gender bias when it comes to medical research into the affects of heart disease on women and the affects this has had on the treatment and long term care of women with the condition.
This isn’t the first time such concerns have been highlighted. In 2019, the British Heart Foundation released their ‘Bias and Biology’ briefing detailing how research had shown that women who had a heart attack received poorer care at every stage than men.
While there are issues in multiple areas, one of the key things that could help with this is to spread awareness of the condition, so more people are aware of the risk factors and how it could affect them. Coronary heart disease causes twice as many deaths in women as breast cancer yet there’s a distinct lack of awareness about it.
What are the risk factors for developing heart disease?
One of the ways you can help to look after yourself is by taking a look at the risk factors and seeing if there are any changes you can make to improve your heart health.
Some of the risk factors for developing heart disease are:
- Having high blood pressure
- Having high cholesterol
- Not exercising regularly
- Having diabetes
It’s highly recommended to have a health check with your GP to get a picture of your overall health. If you’re between the ages of 40 and 74 without a pre-existing condition, you may have already been invited to one by your GP and should get invited to one once every five years.
Even if you’re confident that you’re in the peak of health, it’s always, always worth getting the health check just to confirm that there isn’t anything untoward going on, such as high blood pressure which is often symptomless.
How can I reduce my risk of developing heart disease?
While there are some risks you can’t mitigate, such as having a family history of the condition, there are things you can do to help improve your overall health.
We all know now that smoking isn’t good for our health and while quitting may seem daunting, there are treatments available to help you out. Speak to your GP or pharmacist for help and advice on products to help with the cravings. You can also download the NHS Quit Smoking app for more support with this.
In our busy lives it can be difficult to carve out the time for regular exercise, but it’s important to try and find space where you can. Regular exercise doesn’t have to be high intensity workouts every night of the week, it could include going for walks, swimming, perhaps going up and down the stairs more times at home. Regular exercise looks different for everyone, but it’s ultimately whatever helps to get you moving more often.
If you’re finding it difficult to get around, there are various mobility aids to help you get from A to B, from walking sticks to rollators. You can find our full range of mobility aids here.
Have a healthy diet
Making sure to get our 5-a-day of fruits and vegetables is all part of healthier living. Ultimately, what is healthy for one person may not always be healthy for another but generally speaking it’s about eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions.
If you have any concerns about your diet or need help with it, it’s always worth speaking with your GP for support.
Keep an eye on your vital stats
Home health monitoring devices are a useful way to keep an eye on your vital statistics, so you can get quickly alerted to any changes that you may need to discuss with your GP. Especially when it comes to your blood pressure, as high blood pressure can often be symptomless. By using a home blood pressure monitor you can keep a close eye on it and catch any untoward changes earlier.
You can find our full range of blood pressure monitors here.
This is just a brief guide to help you understand a little more about heart disease and how it can affect you. If you have any concerns at all about your heart health, please speak with your GP for further help and support.
 British Heart Foundation briefing: Bias and Biology: How the gender gap in heart disease is costing women’s lives [PDF]