Sweat beading on the forehead and a desperate clutch of the chest is what we all know as the classic signs that someone is in acute cardiac danger, but few are aware that women can experience heart distress in a completely different manner.
Cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke) is one of the biggest female killers in Ireland, yet less than one in five women are aware of this. Most women think that they will die from breast cancer when they are in fact six times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
According to Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director at the Irish Heart Foundation, symptoms of a heart attack in women are much vaguer and can include nausea, tiredness, shortness of breath, back pain or tightness in the jaw.
As the medical professional on the frontline, it is important that you are aware of when a female patient might be in cardiac distress. Should a female customer present with some of these symptoms, it is critically important that she gets emergency treatment without delay. Irish research has shown that many women die because they delay in getting urgent medical assistance.
Pharmacists are in the privileged position to have a wealth of knowledge about their patients, so they can guide customers who are at risk of heart disease to make the necessary lifestyle adjustments. This is especially important for patients with co-morbid factors and particular emphasis should be placed on knowing their blood pressure and cholesterol readings, not smoking, following a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Community pharmacies across the country can help to keep Ireland’s mothers, grandmothers, sisters and aunts safe.