Heart disease threatens women as well as men. This is what you need to know and be aware of as a woman.

Photo by Etienne Boulanger on Unsplash

YOUNG AND AT RISK

Heart disease is not just a disease that affects men, says Dr. Beth L. Abramson MD MSc FRCP FACC. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, heart disease and stroke is a leading cause of death in women.

“All women are at risk as they age and mature,” says Abramson. High cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure, age, lifestyle and family history are all risk factors, but new research indicates that gestational diabetes and high blood pressure brought on during pregnancy can predict heart health risk. “It’s like a kind of stress test,” she says.

Moreover, “it identifies younger women who are at risk,” she says. “Usually, women develop risks for heart disease after mid-life and menopause. Women who have these problems during pregnancy may be at risk even before menopause.”

GENDER AND CARE

An article presented in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology found higher death rates for Albertan women who went to the emergency room for atrial fibrillation and flutter (AFF) than men. “Women experienced higher death rates than men at 30 and 90 days after discharge,” reads the press release. Of the 21,062 patients whose data was captured, 47.5% were women.

Atrial fibrillation and flutter are types of abnormal heart rhythms caused by problems with the electrical signals that keep the heart beating regularly. They are associated with stroke.

Co-author Dr. Brian H. Rowe is quoted saying, “This research adds to accumulating evidence that women with cardiovascular disease may receive different management and experience worse outcomes than men.”

The discrepancy of care between men and women indicates that there could be differences in care given based on your sex—and it’s not the only study that says as much. Investigators say more research into gender-based care is needed to determine whether this is a result of physical or systemic factors such as income.

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Dr. Beth Abramson is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto, Director of the Cardiac Prevention Centre & Women’s CV Health at St. Michael’s Hospital, Cardiologist and spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Author: Grace Szucs was an editor for Optimyz Magazine and contributes both print and digital articles.

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