The government is asking women to share their experiences of the health and care system and help them create a new Women’s Health Strategy to ensure health services are meeting women’s needs.
At Beat SCAD we have heard many stories from women who, because of their age, gender, lack of cardiac risk factors and the fact that they don’t fit what healthcare professionals expect to see in a cardiac patient, have been misdiagnosed or dismissed out of hand even when they are having cardiac symptoms.
Andrea, for example, was told she was stressed and anxious when in reality she was having a heart attack caused by SCAD. She was 44, slim, fit and healthy and had never suffered from anxiety before. The pain didn’t go away, so she eventually went to A&E for a blood test, which showed she was having a heart attack.
Alison, a 46-year-old mother of two had pain across her shoulders, tingling in her arms and was violently sick and yet, when she had a phone consultation with her GP, she was told she was hyperventilating.
Many SCAD patients are told they are too young to be having a cardiac event or that because they are pregnant or menopausal, their symptoms are caused by hormones. In some cases this has resulted in delayed treatment and heart failure.
The core themes in the call for evidence include ‘Placing women’s voices at the centre of their health and care – how the health and care system engages with and listens to women at the individual level as well as at the system level,’ and ‘increasing awareness and understanding of women’s health conditions among clinicians.’
Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: “The healthcare system needs to work for everyone, and we must address inequalities which exist within it. I urge all women, and those who have experiences or expertise in women’s health, to come forward and share their views with us to inform the future of this important strategy.”
The government also recognises that gender biases in clinical trials and research are contributing to worse health outcomes for women and less evidence and data on how conditions affect women differently.
It goes on to say, “A University of Leeds study showed women with a total blockage of a coronary artery were 59% more likely to be misdiagnosed than men, and found that UK women had more than double the rate of death in the 30 days following heart attack compared with men.
The call for evidence will run for 12 weeks from 8 March. For more information click here.
We would urge women who have had a SCAD to fill in the form and give their experiences and help shape the government’s strategy.