It's common for women to delay seeking help when having a heart attack.
A heart attack means that blood flow to the heart is disrupted. The longer this goes on, the higher the risk of:
- permanent damage to the heart muscle
- heart failure
- life-threatening heart rhythms
You may think the symptoms are not important, or that they're caused by something else. However, heart attacks do not just happen to men, so if you experience any symptoms it's important to seek help immediately.
If you have had a heart attack, you should be referred on to a cardiac rehabilitation programme when you leave hospital. This helps you by providing information, advice and support to:
- understand your condition and medication
- recover from your heart attack, procedure or surgery
- make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of having another heart attack
Read further information about:
Risk factors of heart disease
There are various risk factors for heart disease, some of which you have control over and others that you don’t.
Uncontrollable risk factors for heart disease include:
Your risk can also be increased by certain lifestyle factors (sometimes called controllable risk factors). For example, your diet, level of physical activity and smoking habits.
You can make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart disease. There is support available to empower women to become active and improve their health including:
If you have been diagnosed with some other health conditions you might also be at increased risk of heart disease. These conditions include:
Pregnancy and heart disease
From the early stages of pregnancy there are lots of changes in your body, including to the heart. The heart needs to work harder, pumping up to 50% more blood volume than normal. The blood is also more prone to clotting. There are extra demands on your heart around the time of birth. These demands can cause greater stress on your heart.
Pregnancy if you already have a heart condition
Most people with a heart condition tolerate pregnancy well. But, depending on the nature of your heart condition, there may be risks to you and your baby.
You should avoid an unplanned pregnancy if you have a heart condition. This gives you time to talk to your healthcare professional about pregnancy and any risks there may be.
Further support is available from Scottish Obstetric Cardiology Network (SOCN). SOCN help women with a heart condition who are thinking about pregnancy, or who are pregnant.
Further information about pregnancy with a heart condition
Developing a heart condition in pregnancy
Some women develop heart problems for the first time in pregnancy.
Heart disease is a leading cause of death for pregnant women in the UK, and the risk is higher for black women.