Azara Blog: Women are allegedly not worried enough about heart disease

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Date published: 2010/12/01

The BBC says:

Only one in 10 women aged 50 or older say they have discussed their risk of heart disease during a GP visit, according to a survey.

The British Heart Foundation poll of more than 4,000 UK women also found many unaware of the symptoms of a heart attack.

It says that both women, and doctors, should be more aware of the threat.

"Health MOTs" for all over-40s including heart health checks, are currently being introduced in England.

While the death toll from heart disease in middle age is lower for women than for men, it still kills more than 40,000 UK women each year.

Specialists say that spotting more cases early could make a marked difference to the number of heart attacks and deaths.

There may be a greater opportunity to do this for women, who are frequently more regular visitors to GP surgeries than men.

The survey suggested that, despite this, only 10% had had a conversation about risk factors for heart disease with their GP.

A second poll of 2,829 women suggested that fewer than half of women would dial 999 if they were suffering some of the best-known symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain.

In fact 11% said they would just go to bed, and 7% would ignore the symptoms and try to carry on as normal.

Dr Mike Knapton, a GP and associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "These results show serious gaps in the way women are thinking about 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."

The British Heart Foundation evidently wanted some free publicity for its agenda and the BBC, as usual, obliged with a totally uncritical analysis. Needless to say, heart disease is only one health issue. Every health-related special interest pressure group no doubt believes that GPs should focus a huge amount of attention on their one pet issue. If they all got their way, GPs would be spending hours on each and every patient.

And the comment by Knapton is misleading. The results (from some survey which might or might not have been scientifically conducted) do not indicate anything much except that most people (women as well as men) do not spend all their lives fretting about health issues as much as the middle class control freaks in the health profession would like. In particular the results do not "highlight the common myth that heart disease is a middle-aged male health problem which simply doesn't affect women in the same way" because there is no reason to believe that men would not have responded in almost exactly the same way to the survey.

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