While heart disease used to be considered a “man’s disease”, that is no longer the case as cases among women are rising.
Diseases of the heart and blood vessels are the number one killers of women worldwide and the leading cause of premature death in women in Canada. Despite this, women are under-studied, under-diagnosed, under-treated, and under-aware when it comes to their heart and blood vessel health.
Did you know that women may experience different heart attack symptoms than men?
Heart attack symptoms are not recognized in over 50 percent of women. Women most frequently report symptoms of chest pain or discomfort, which may be accompanied by a feeling of being unusually tired or shortness of breath.
Risk factors for heart disease affect women differently
Lifestyle and medical factors can contribute to a woman’s future risk for heart disease. Importantly, diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking are more likely to cause heart disease or stroke in women than men. For example, women with diabetes are three times more likely to have heart disease than diabetic men. There are also specific risk factors for women in pregnancy and menopause. For example, complications that can occur during pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes, among others, can increase their future chance of having heart disease or stroke.
80% of risk factors for heart and blood vessel diseases can be prevented
Being active, eating well, managing stress, not smoking, and regular check-ups to assess and treat high blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol reduce a woman’s risk.
Wear Red Canada is celebrated annually across Canada on February 13 to raise awareness about women’s heart health. The event is proudly hosted by the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance and powered by the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.