Coronary artery disease affects just as many women as men and can lead to heart attack, or cause heart failure or arrhythmias. However, according to a new report published in Global Heart by Dr. Kavita Sharma, a specialist in cardiovascular medicine and Dr. Martha Gulati, director of Preventive Cardiology and Women s Cardiovascular Health at the Ohio State University, this potentially fatal disease is likely to go unnoticed in women. Thus, women may not be getting the same level of preventive care as men.
This is especially disturbing given that more women than men die from CAD. Furthermore, in women, there are more total deaths from CAD than from cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, Alzheimer s disease and accidents combined. According to the World Health Organization, 8.6 million women die each year from cardiovascular diseases (including CAD).
Risk factors for CAD may include lack of physical fitness, diabetes and a family history of the disease. Furthermore, CAD may be more fatal in women than in men a woman with CAD who had a heart attack under the age of 50 was twice as likely to die than a man in the same situation.
But according to study authors, there are some positive findings. Deaths due to CAD have been declining since 1998 and are down by 30 percent. Furthermore, awareness about CAD has risen. Half of Americans are now aware that CAD is the leading cause of death in women, up from one-third.
Dr. Gulati comments that doctors really need to become more aware of the risks of CAD in women. She also adds, Ultimately, women need to be aware that heart disease is their number-one killer. We treat women differently compared with men and that needs to change. So we have a long way to go but we are learning more and more every day.
ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross adds, It s easy to say that doctors should be more aware of CAD in women, and I certainly agree that that is 100 percent correct. However, it is important that women themselves pay attention to factors that may put them at a higher risk for CAD so it s good to know that awareness about the disease is on the rise.