- 19,000 women are admitted to hospital after a heart attack each year
- 80 per cent of female heart attack victims don’t attend cardiac rehabilitation programs
- 31 per cent of female heart attack victims participating in rehabilitation don’t finish
Only two in five women who suffered a heart attack will attend rehabilitation, research issued by the National Heart Foundation today found, while those who start are 16 per cent less likely to finish than male participants.
Indigenous, remote and underprivileged women are more likely to die from heart attacks.
Heart Foundation’s women’s health spokeswoman Julie Anne Mitchell told SBS that women often don’t attend rehab as their hospital or doctor don’t refer them.
“We’re encouraging women to be an advocate and ask to be referred to cardiac rehab programs but equally, we’re calling on clinicians to ensure that every patient they see is routinely referred,” she said.
The survey of 504 heart attack survivors also found that women victims were less likely than men to have been advised about their medication or report that medical staff spent enough time explaining the process of recovery.
Women were also found to be less confident in knowing what to do if they experienced another heart attack, which Ms Mitchell said typically features symptoms other than chest pain and tightness.
“So that may be pain, or a sense of heaviness in their jaw, down their arm, in their back or indeed they may just feel incredibly nauseous or fatigued,” she said.
The research was conducted as part of the Heart Foundation’s “Go Red for Women” campaign, now in its sixth year.
The nationwide campaign is also aiming to raise awareness online through social media and the hashtag #Heartsalute.