Heart disease is a concern for many women, but not for the reason it ought to be.
There’s a strong perception that it’s mostly men who suffer from heart disease as we predominately see images of middle-aged men clutching at their chests on television, in brochures and online. Do a quick google image search for ‘heart attack’ and the vast majority of the images shown are men.
So it’s only natural that as mothers, wives, sisters and daughters, we make sure the men in our lives get regular blood pressure and cholesterol check-ups.
But did you know that 24 women die from the disease every day? In fact, heart disease is the biggest killer of women in Australia.
South Australian heart researcher Peta King states: “Heart disease doesn’t just target men – even though most of the advertising around it does,” “Women are three times more likely to die from heart disease than from breast cancer, and yet few are aware of the dangers until it is too late.”
But, Ms King said it was crucial for men and women to be aware of the risks posed by the disease. She said age is certainly a risk factor, but is certainly not the only consideration.
“Yes, men are more likely to die from a heart attack than women between the ages of 40 and 60, but women very rapidly catch up around menopause,’’ she said. The rate of heart disease rises dramatically among women after menopause, when production of oestrogen protecting the heart drops off.
Other risk factors, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, also expose younger women to the dangers of heart disease.
She said it is critical for women of any age to be aware that heart disease doesn’t discriminate by gender.
“By all means ladies, continue nagging your partners, your brothers and your fathers to get their blood pressure checked and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But remember it’s just as important for you to visit your GP and talk about your risks of heart disease.”
It’s time to start raising awareness of the risk of heart disease amongst women. Make sure the women in your life get regular blood pressure and cholesterol check-ups with their GP to catch any early warning signs.
Study volunteers needed to help reduce the risk of Coronary Artery Disease in Families
The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute is seeking volunteers for a study into the prevention of Coronary Artery Disease in people with a family history of the illness.
You may qualify if you:
- are aged between 40 and 70 years
- have a close family member (parent or sibling) who has had a heart attack, stent or surgery under the age of 60
- are not currently taking a statin drug