the World Heart Federation says 17-and-one half million people around the world die of heart disease and stroke. Women account for one-third of these deaths.
And yet, World Heart Federation chief executive officer Janet Voute says many women are not aware of the risks they run. She says they often believe that cardiovascular problems afflict mainly men. Therefore, they do not take the appropriate preventive steps.
For the same reason, she says, doctors often misdiagnose heart disease in women. “Women are just as susceptible to heart disease and stroke. I think what has led to the myth is the difference in the age of onset. And, it is somewhat younger-about 10 years younger in men and women have a certain protection that comes with menopause. Up until menopause, there is a slightly protective mechanism. After age, their risk in fact is higher.”
Voute says the incidence of heart disease and stroke is on the increase because risk factors such as being overweight or obese, inactive and smoking are on the risk. She says the adoption of healthy life styles like eating well; exercising regularly, and stopping tobacco use could cut deaths from heart disease and stroke by half. She says the problems, the risks, and the solutions are relevant in poor countries as they are in rich ones.
Because developing countries have scarce resources, Voute notes these tend to be used for maternal health care. As a consequence, the needs of older women often get ignored. She says health care systems must be structured so they can help people maintain good health throughout their lives.
Listen to out Health Report for more details.