Active Scottish mum shocked after 'indigestion' was heart attack - at 42

A mum-of-three who was prescribed over-the-counter indigestion remedy Gaviscon for symptoms which led to a heart attack is calling for more awareness of the risks to women of heart disease.

By Elsa Maishman
Monday, 30th September 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 30th September 2019, 9:48 am
Jen Stevens was 42 when she suffered a heart attack.
Jen Stevens was 42 when she suffered a heart attack.

Jen Stevens, from Currie, had been having symptoms for six weeks before the attack in January 2014, but dismissed them partly because she did not consider herself, an active 42-year-old woman, to be at risk of heart disease.

The doctor she saw when her daughter eventually took her to hospital seemed to feel the same way, as when an electrocardiogram came back clear he prescribed her the indigestion treatment Gaviscon.

Four days later Ms Stevens suffered a life-threatening heart attack.

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“If I was a man I think my symptoms would have raised more of a red flag, and maybe the doctor would have given me a blood test,” she said.

Ms Stevens had initially dismissed her symptoms of cramp across her chest and feeling short of breath.

“I never for one moment suspected a heart attack. I thought it was a bit of stress or a chest infection,” she said.

“I don’t blame the doctor at all - he didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just that women aren’t seen as high risk.”

A British Heart Foundation (BHF) report released today shows women who suffer heart attacks are dying needlessly or recovering badly because they receive poorer health treatment than men.

Colin Berry, Professor of Cardiology and Imaging at the University of Glasgow, said that women with heart disease face disadvantages ‘at every stage’.

He said: “We know that women often wait longer before calling 999 after first experiencing heart attack symptoms. But that delay can dramatically reduce the chance of survival. Women may be less likely to receive a timely diagnosis and, even after the event, women are less likely to be offered cardiac rehabilitation to improve their recovery.”

Coronary heart disease, including heart attacks and angina, kills around seven women every day in Scotland.

The BHF is calling on everyone, especially women, to be aware of the most common symptoms of a heart attack. These include sudden chest pain; pain similar to indigestion; feeling sick, sweaty, light-headed or short of breath; and pain which radiates down your left or both arms.