Heart disease kills five women in Northern Ireland every day
FIVE women die from heart disease every day in Northern Ireland, according to new figures.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is urging women to be more aware of symptoms, as research also shows twice as many women die from coronary heart disease as breast cancer.
The charity said typically most people "envisage a middle-aged man who is overweight, has diabetes and smokes" when they think of a person with heart disease.
But statistics show that heart and circulatory disease kills one in four women in the north every year.
Jayne Murray from BHF NI said it was worrying some women do not realise heart disease could happen to them.
"Women are much less likely to seek help if they experience the signs and symptoms of heart disease," she said.
"This might be because women are less likely to recognise the symptoms, they’re reluctant to cause a fuss, or they don't want to be embarrassed if it turns out that their situation isn’t serious.
"This delay can dramatically reduce their chances of survival. We need to work harder to shift the perception that heart disease only affects a certain type of person."
Signs and symptoms include pain, heaviness or tightness in the chest, neck, jaw, arms or shoulders.
Monica McCann (53), a mother-of-three from south Belfast, had been experiencing the symptoms of heart disease for six months before she sought help.
"I had been under a lot of stress and the pain usually went away after five to 10 minutes so I assumed it was nothing to be concerned about," she said.
"I went to the doctor in March and I said I was getting chest pain but I didn't really make much of it.
"I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, I didn’t have high blood pressure and eat my five a day so my heart was the last thing I expected.
"The doctor sent me for tests and in April I went for an angiogram. They told me there and then they were going to have to put stents in. I just felt like 'this can’t be happening to me'.
"I had two stents fitted and the doctor told me straight that I probably wouldn’t have survived a heart attack.
"It’s something I never expected to happen to me and it would be great to make other women more aware that heart disease can happen to anyone."
Dr Andriana Margariti, BHF NI-funded researcher at Queen’s University, Belfast said more research is needed.
"We need more vital heart research so we can save the lives of the thousands of women who die from heart disease in Northern Ireland," she said.