Too many women are dying and suffering from heart disease, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. As Catherine Hansen tells us on today's To Your Health, heart conditions in women often go undiagnosed, due to symptoms that differ from men.
And now, "To Your Health". Brought to you by Hart Drugs, Third Avenue Pharmacy and the Phoenix Pharmacy.
(Catherine Hansen - Reporter:)
When it comes to heart health, the Heart and Stroke Foundation says women are being left behind. The latest research shows heart disease is the leading cause of premature death for women in Canada, and early heart attack signs were missed in 78% of women.
(Adrienne Bakker - CEO, BC/Yukon Heart and Stroke Foundation:)
"Women with heart disease are under-researched, under-diagnosed, under-treated and under-supported during recovery, and under-aware of their risks. So we feel, as Heart and Stroke, there's an urgent need to address these situations, so that we can change the trajectory of more women dying from heart disease."
When a heart attack is imminent, both men and women usually report pain as a primary sign, but how both sexes describe that pain is different. For example, women will usually describe it as pressure or tightness, and they’re more likely to describe other symptoms like nausea, fatigue or jaw pain.
(Dr Haidir Hadi - Cardiologist:)
"We as health care providers can easily miss it, so when we do the research and we do the presentations, it's everything to do with our understanding of how a man presents. So that's why we don't recognize women's presentation as well as we do with men."
Not only is the presentation of pain different, there are physical differences in a woman's heart.
"Women's hearts are smaller than men's, their arteries are smaller, so there are structural differences which again affect their presentation, but there is so much that we don't know about these differences. For example, there is some evidence suggests that estrogen may play a role in protecting women's hearts. Before menopause and post-menopause, that protection is gone."
Education is key, which is why the Heart and Stroke Foundation is focusing on women's heart health as part of its annual campaign. Whether female or male, the best way to avoid a heart attack is to eat a heart healthy diet, avoid smoking and get plenty of exercise. To your health, Catherine Hansen, CKPG News.
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