I hav raised concerns over gender bias in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease following a recent British Heart Foundation Scotland report, Bias and Biology, highlighting nearly three times as many women die from types of heart disease as breast cancer.
Each year, ischaemic heart disease, including heart attacks and angina, kills around 2,600 women in Scotland – that’s seven women every day. There are currently around 100,000 women in Scotland who are living with ischaemic heart disease. Yet, because heart attacks are sometimes thought of as conditions that affect only men, women are not receiving equal access to services, have delayed diagnosis and treatment.
British Heart Foundation Scotland statistics indicate that in Edinburgh Western there are around 4,800 women living with a heart or circulatory disease. This includes around 1,100 women with coronary heart disease, half of whom have survived a heart attack, and a further 1,000 stroke survivors.
There are nearly 5,000 women living in Edinburgh Western who have some form of heart disease. Misconceptions about heart disease should not be impacting on the quality of care and ultimately women’s lives- we need to work hard to tackle these inequalities head on. What’s more, the report highlights that there is still a huge deprivation divide. I welcome the Government’s announcement of a Women’s Health Plan to address these inequalities but it also needs to look into boosting resources in our most deprived areas to improve wider public health.
Kylie Strachan, BHF Scotland’s Policy and Public Affairs Manager, said:
“Our report highlights a worrying lack of understanding of women’s risks of heart disease, so we’re pleased to see this important issue being raised.
“We believe it is vital to work collaboratively with clinicians, MSPs and the Scottish Government, and we would like to see the appointment of a Women’s Heart Champion to promote equality of treatment for women with heart disease, raise awareness of the risks and improve outcomes for women across Scotland.”