The number of hospital visits by women with cardiovascular disease (CVD) continues to rise, according to analysis by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
Latest figures show that the number of hospital visits by women with CVD in England – which includes heart disease and stroke – reached 642,000 for 2015 / 16, an increase of 93,000 on the number 10 years ago (549,000).
The number of hospital visits by women with CVD has grown by 50 per cent in the 20 years since it hit 420,000 in 1995. And the number has more than doubled since the early 1980s when it was less than 250,000.
While there have been similar increases in hospital visits by men, recent research suggests that it can take longer to diagnose women with some conditions, such as heart attack, which can mean that they aren’t prioritised once at hospital.
The BHF has said that the rise in hospital visits is partly due to the population getting older and becoming more at risk of developing coronary heart disease – the build-up of fat in their arteries – as well as heart failure, stroke and heart rhythm problems.
Although heart attack survival rates have greatly improved, as have treatments for heart failure, these diseases are still common as people get older and remain a major burden for the NHS.
Research, carried out at the University of Leeds, found that women have a 50 per cent higher chance than men of receiving the wrong initial diagnosis following a heart attack. This can lead to poorer outcomes.
The BHF has commented that these figures dispel the myth that heart disease is a ‘man’s disease’ and show that much more research is needed to reduce the number of hospital visits and ease the burden on the NHS.
Statistics show that coronary heart disease kills more than twice as many women in the UK as breast cancer.