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GP visits leave women in the dark about their risk of heart disease

Survey results released today by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) reveal the shocking extent to which UK women are ‘in the dark' about their risk of heart disease.

Although heart disease is the UK's single biggest killer, only one in 10 (10%) women over 50 said their doctor had discussed it with them.

The survey also showed that less than half of UK women (47%) reported that they would call 999 immediately if they were suffering the symptoms of a heart attack. Worryingly, 7% admitted they would ignore the symptoms and carry on. The results signal that this lack of awareness could be costing lives. New statistics from the charity show almost 40,000 women die from heart disease each year.

The truth is that there are over a million women living with heart disease in the UK today and it kills three times more women than breast cancer.

Dr Mike Knapton, GP and Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said:

“These results show serious gaps in the way women are thinking about their heart health. They highlight the common myth that heart disease is a middle-aged male health problem which simply doesn't affect women in the same way.

“It's vital that us GPs ‘think heart' for our female patients. All women over 40 are entitled to a free health check which takes just a few minutes. The truth is too many lives are lost each year to a killer which is largely preventable. We need to help women look after their hearts now and protect their health in the future.”

Jill Wakeford, 52 years old from Chichester, suffered a heart attack earlier this year. Jill said:

“My heart attack came out of the blue. Instead of going to the gym one morning I decided to move some logs in my garage. The next day I felt a shooting pain across my chest which I thought was a normal muscle strain. Despite this I carried on and went to work. That evening I could hardly sleep and the pain continued for another two days. I decided to check my symptoms online and that's when I dialled 999.

“I was shocked to learn that I had suffered a heart attack. It didn't occur to me that I was at risk of suffering one. I think much more about my heart health now and I would urge all women to do the same. Ask for a health check before it's too late.”

The BHF released the results as part of the Angina Monologues campaign. Some of the UK's top comedians will put the heart centre stage as they perform the Angina Monologues on Sunday 5 December at London's Theatre Royal Haymarket. The evening of comedy aims to raise awareness of heart disease in women and will be broadcast live to Vue cinemas across the UK.

As part of the campaign the BHF is asking women to take an online lifestyle check and, if they are over 40, ask their GP for a free health check. For more information visit