Unhealthy lifestyles increase the risk of a heart attack for women more than they do for men, the researchers warned.
For decades, doctors and patients have considered heart disease as a problem that affects above middleweight overweight men.
But while men remain more likely than women to suffer an attack, the incidence of heart attacks among women is increasing.
A study by Oxford University experts suggests that women with unhealthy lifestyles increase their risk compared to men with the same habits.
Data of 470,000 Britons revealed women with high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes – both related to obesity, drinking and diet – seeing that their risk of heart attack increases more than men with the same conditions.
Unhealthy lifestyles increase the risk of a heart attack for women more than they do for men, warned researchers at the University of Oxford.
Women with type 2 diabetes, for example, are 96% more likely to have a heart attack than women without. For men, the risk increases by 33%.
For women with stage 2 hypertension – the medical term for severe arterial hypertension – the risk of heart attack increases by 152%, compared to 71% of men.
And women who smoke have a 246% more chance of having a heart attack, compared to 123% of men.
Scientists, writing in the British Medical Journal, said that despite the increased risks, women receive worse care.
"Women should, at least, receive the same access to treatments based on diabetes and hypertension guidelines, and to resources to help lose weight and quit smoking like men do," they wrote.
WHAT IS THE DISEASE OF THE CORONARY HEART?
Coronary artery disease (CHD) is a leading cause of death in both the UK and worldwide. CHD is sometimes called ischemic heart disease.
The main symptoms of CHD are: angina (chest pain), heart attacks, heart failure.
However, not everyone has the same symptoms and some people may not have them before CHD is diagnosed.
Coronary heart disease is the term that describes what happens when the blood flow of your heart is blocked or interrupted by an accumulation of fatty substances in the coronary arteries.
Over time, the artery walls can soften with fat deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis and fat deposits are called atheroma.
You can reduce the risk of contracting CHD by making some simple lifestyle changes.
- eat a healthy and balanced diet
- be physically active
- stop smoking
- Cholesterol control in blood and sugar levels
In the United Kingdom, women with diabetes are 15% less likely than men with diabetes to receive all recommended treatment and may be less likely to reach target values when treated for cardiovascular risk factors.
Experts are also increasingly concerned that women do not suffer heart attacks among women, while women in Britain are 50% more likely than men to have a heart attack initially misdiagnosed.
Approximately 69,000 women have a heart attack in Britain each year – nearly 20,000 more than breast cancer is diagnosed.
Yet women themselves view heart problems as a typical "masculine disease", scientists think – so when they start noticing symptoms they often do not seek help.
About 119,000 men have a heart attack each year, but women are also more likely to die from the attack.
Professor Metin Avkiran, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "Regardless of gender, risk factors such as hypertension, smoking and diabetes increase the risk of heart attack.
"These results should not distract from a concerted effort to identify and better manage the risk factors that can be changed.
"It is absolutely vital that everyone has equal access to the best advice and treatment, regardless of age, gender or socio-economic status.
"This is an important reminder that heart disease does not discriminate, so we have to shift perceptions that only affects men."