Byline: JENNY HOPE
WOMEN are ten times more likely to fall victim to the 'silent epidemic' of heart disease than breast cancer, say doctors.
But many don't realise the risks because they think heart attacks are a man's problem.
About 13,000 women die from breast cancer in Britain each year, compared with 124,000 from heart and circulatory disorders.
Women have worse symptoms than men, inferior treatment and are more likely to be killed by a heart attack.
Heart specialist Professor Ian Graham said women were lulled into a false sense of security as they tend to get heart problems ten years later than men.
This is because oestrogen has a protective effect before the menopause, at about 50.
Professor Graham will tell the European Society for Cardiology in Stockholm today: 'Coronary heart disease and stroke together are ten times commoner in women than breast cancer.
'We are used to the idea that women are worried about dying from breast cancer but that is fundamentally wrong. Cardiovascular disease is the biggest cause of death and it is more lethal in women than men as they are at double the risk of dying within a year after a heart attack compared with men.
'Women are less likely to be investigated for heart disease, diagnosed correctly or referred for specialist help.
'They are described as having atypical chest pain - which means it's not the same as the pain men get, but they're still in trouble.
'Women are less likely to be offered procedures to re- open the arteries or appropriate drug therapy such as aspirin and cholesterol-lowering medication.' Professor Graham, of the Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Dublin, says the heart risk faced by a woman of 65 is similar to that of a 55-year-old man.
But women who have angioplasty or balloon treatment to widen arteries do less well than men.
One year after a heart attack, 42 per cent of women will be dead compared with 24 per cent of men, he …