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World Heart Day 2020: More women die from heart disease than breast cancer in the UK

29 September 2020, 07:59 | Updated: 29 September 2020, 08:43

Emma Gritt

By Emma Gritt

More women die from Heart Disease than breast cancer in the UK, says top doc on Heart Breakfast with Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden.

Women are twice as likely to die of coronary heart disease as breast cancer in the UK - but many still believe it is just a "man's illness".

To mark World Heart Day, British Heart Foundation ambassador Dr. Hazel Wallace joined Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden on Tuesday's Heart Breakfast, where she debunked some of the myths surrounding cardiovascular disease.

She said: "There's a definite belief that heart disease is a man's disease, but it affects men and women.

"Because of this, women are less likely to present at the hospital when they have heart problems. Women are more likely to have heart disease than breast cancer in the UK."

Dr Hazel Wallace, who presents the The Food Medic podcast, is also an NHS medical doctor, a registered nutritionist (ANutR), personal trainer, and best-selling author, added that it's vital women start monitoring for likely signs that they might be at risk.

She explained tests for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cholesterol, "are all things that can be checked easily at your GP."

There are many changes we can make to our lifestyles to protect our heart
There are many changes we can make to our lifestyles to protect our heart. Picture: Getty

The British Heart Foundation has been campaigning to tackle the deadly gender inequality in heart attack treatment between men and women.

A recent report they published showed that more than 8,000 heart attack deaths in women could have been prevented over ten years if they’d received the same care as men.

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But regardless of our gender, we can all be doing more to protect our hearts.

She said: "There's lots of things that we can do to reduce our risk of heart problems - there are some things we can't change like our family history or things we inherited, but things we can change, include stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet, regular exercise and reducing our stress.

"All these things ad up, and it's important we start doing it earlier in our life."

Exercise is vital in staving off cardiovascular disease - which includes heart attacks and strokes - and people should be aiming for 150 minutes moderate exercise a week.

"Moderate means that you can't sing when you are exercising, that includes brisk walking. People can aim to do 30 minutes a day or in bigger chunks, or even 10 minute chunks, or split in to two walks a day. All types of exercise count."

Click here to donate to the British Heart Foundation

Women are at risk of heart disease, just like men
Women are at risk of heart disease, just like men. Picture: Getty

With an expert in the studio, Amanda was keen to get a final verdict on a very important question.

She asked: "Is red wine actually good for your heart?"

Much to her disappointment, the doctor replied: "I would love to say a glass of red wine would keep everything at bay, but that's not true."

The doctor added that dark chocolate is also not as good for our hearts as some people believe.

She said: "This is similar to your question about wine. Dark chocate comes from cocoa beans, which have antioxidant properties, but it also has fat and sugar which isn't good for your heart.

"I wouldn't be buying dark chocolate just to protect your heart!"