Heart disease in women, it’s time to talk about it.
For Women’s Health Week 2022, we are excited to be able to invite Cardiologist Dr Monique Watts and author of ‘Queen Menopause’ Alison Brahe Daddo to join us for tea and chat all things women’s heart health.
We will cover heart conditions commonly experienced by women yet not well known or spoken of; early warning signs and what to look out for; what to do should they arise; and the impact of menopause on a woman’s heart health.
Attending this webinar could save your life, or the life of someone you care about.
Heart disease kills more than two times as many Australian women than breast cancer.
Heart disease is Australia’s single biggest cause of death, killing an Australian every 30 minutes*. While more men die from heart disease than women, it is still one of the leading causes of death in Australian women*. Moreover, aspects of its prevention, treatment and management are unique to women.
Despite heart disease being a leading cause of death in women, only one in five Australian women are aware of this. This highlights a huge gap in understanding and the need to raise awareness about the different symptoms and risks for women. Many women dismiss early warning signs because they think heart disease mainly affects older men.
Many of the symptoms women experience may not be recognised as heart disease, thus increasing the likelihood of a missed diagnosis. Although men suffering from a heart attack typically describe chest pain or discomfort, women are more likely to have non-chest pain symptoms such as shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue and indigestion, and frequently with worse consequences.
Physicians are also more likely to underestimate heart disease risk in women and this can influence their diagnosis and treatment. Research finds that younger women aged under 55 with acute coronary syndrome (heart attacks and/or angina) are more likely to be misdiagnosed and discharged from emergency departments than men#
Awareness is critical so that women can advocate for their own health.
Professor Gemma Figtree’s latest research partially funded by Heart Research Australia, showed women who had a heart attack with no modifiable risk factors had a mortality rate 3 times that of men with at least one risk factor. Although more men than women are admitted to hospital experiencing a heart attack, the number of deaths are the same and heart disease kills more than two times as many Australian women than breast cancer. To read more about this research click here.
Menopause reduces women’s natural protection against heart disease
Women are generally more at risk of heart disease after menopause. As women reach their fifties and navigate menopause, their risk factors for heart disease are more likely to increase as the protection they have received from oestrogen declines. Oestrogen plays an important role within women’s bodies. One of the many things Oestrogen helps do is keep the blood vessels in the body stable and functioning well. With less oestrogen, women are more likely to develop plaque in the arteries surrounding the heart or have this plaque rupture, increasing the risk of a heart attack. Oestrogen also has beneficial effects on sugar regulation and insulin.
*AIHW – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Australia’s health 2022: data insights, AIHW, Australian Government
#AIHW – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. Cardiovascular disease in women. Cat. no. CDK 15. Canberra: AIHW.
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