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Show your heart some love

Health conditions affecting the heart and blood circulation, including heart disease and strokes, are one of the main causes of death and disability in the UK.

Coronary heart disease (CHD) kills more than twice as many women as breast cancer in the UK every year and 830,000 women in the UK are currently living with CHD.

Yet many women don’t know what the symptoms of a heart attack are and can be misdiagnosed. That’s why it’s important to know your body, know the signs of heart disease, and live a healthy lifestyle to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.


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Symptoms of a heart attack

Although we all experience pain differently, did you know that the most common signs of a heart attack are the same for men and women?

The most common symptom is chest pain or discomfort. While symptoms vary from person to person, there are no symptoms that women experience more or less often than men. Sometimes the severity of symptoms experienced by women can be subtler, but not always. Listen to your body. If something is unusual, take it seriously without delay.

Look out for:

  • chest pain or discomfort in your chest that comes on suddenly and doesn't go away. It may feel like pressure, tightness or squeezing. The pain or discomfort may spread to one or both of your arms, or may spread to your neck, jaw, back or stomach
  • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing with or without chest discomfort
  • feeling dizzy, light-headed or faint
  • feeling sick, indigestion, being sick
  • sweating or a cold sweat
  • a sudden feeling of anxiety that can feel like a panic attack
  • a lot of coughing or wheezing

You may experience just one or a combination of these symptoms.

Remember every body is different, so if you feel something that is unusual for your body act straightaway.


Women have a 50% higher chance of receiving the wrong initial diagnosis after a heart attack, leading to a 70% higher risk of death. Consequently women are 50% less likely than men to receive the recommended heart attack treatments.

To help your diagnosis and correct treatment, take your time, be very clear and honest, and ask questions.

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Did you know that a heart attack is a serious medical emergency?

It’s important that you know the warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack and get medical help immediately.

The longer you wait to get help the more dangerous the consequences could very possibly be. You should immediately:

  • call 999 for an ambulance
  • sit down and stay calm
  • chew 300mg aspirin if you have it and you're not allergic
  • wait for the ambulance

Women may be less likely to seek medical help and treatment quickly, despite the warning signs. Early treatment is essential to limit the amount of damage to the heart.

It's essential to dial 999 if you have any symptoms that could be a heart attack. If you don’t think you are having a heart attack but you need to be seen before you can speak to your doctor, call 111 to be assessed. Don't delay because you think hospitals are too busy. The NHS will look after you promptly if you are having a heart attack.


You matter. So how do you look after yourself?

Increase your chance of living a healthier and longer life by adding these to your routine:

  • have your NHS Health Check. If you are aged between 40 and 74, get your 20-minute health check for free at your local GP surgery
  • check your blood pressure regularly. For women, high blood pressure increases the risk of having a heart attack 80% more than men. So monitor your blood pressure at least once a month or more
  • having a FREE health MOT at a Pump It Up Health Kiosk:
    • Aylesbury Library
    • High Wycombe Library
    • Burnham Library
    • Health on the High Street, Aylesbury
    • for more details visit our Love your Heart Bucks page
  • balance your meals
    • eat less food that is high in salt, cholesterol and fat and more whole grains, fruit and vegetables
    • prepare a meal with lean proteins, veggies, and whole grains
    • find heart-healthy recipes at Heart UK
Woman eating
  • do at least 150 minutes of exercise that makes your heart pump per week (always seek advice from your GP first)
  • get support to stop smoking. Did you know the risk of having a heart attack is 4 x higher for smokers compared to non-smokers?
    • contact Be Healthy Bucks for a tailored journey to a smoke-free life, with a variety of quit aids to support your success
  • cut down on alcohol levels. Drinking too much alcohol is strongly associated with high blood pressure, which increases the risk of developing heart disease
  • Get Active: Move more and you'll be rewarded with the brands you love
MP, using the heart health kiosk - cropped

Check your blood pressure

You can get your blood pressure checked, for free, at one of our pop-up events:

  • 8 March at High Wycombe Library
  • 13 March at Chesham Market
  • 20 March at Aylesbury Friars Square

What’s good for your heart is good for your brain

Did you know – if you’ve got high blood pressure in mid-life, you’re more likely to develop vascular dementia as you get older. But, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk by keeping your brain healthy.

Maintaining a healthy social life, keeping mentally and physically active and stopping smoking can keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of dementia later in life.