“Women spend more time thinking about their weight than they do about their hearts.”
Honey, if you experience a sudden upset stomach, crushing fatigue and shortness of breath, put down your phone. You could be having a heart attack.
Barely one third of Canadian women are aware that pain in the chest, arm, neck, jaw or back are not always the most common symptoms for a woman suffering a heart attack – the #1 killer of women in Canada.
In fact, 43% of women report unusual fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting during a cardiac event – but NOT chest pain.(1)
A 2008 Canadian study of women over 40 called the LIPSTICK Survey reported that women spend more time thinking about their weight than they do about their hearts. Only 10% of women surveyed knew their personal LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol levels, versus the 64% of women who know how much they weighed in high school.
This is not good. Heart disease kills more women than men each year in Canada. It kills six times more women than breast cancer does – in fact, heart disease kills more women than all types of cancer combined. And women typically wait too long before seeking help during heart attack symptoms.
Dr. Nahid Azad of the University of Ottawa and a member of the Federation of Medical Women in Canada who sponsored the LIPSTICK Survey, adds:
“The good news is that it’s never too late to take action. Women need to work with their physician to identify their personal risks, and steps they can take to reduce their chances of cardiovascular disease through improved diet, lifestyle changes, and medication if necessary.”
Dr. Sofia Shames at Montreal’s McGill University and spokeswoman for the Federation also observed at the time:
“The most troubling thing is that women really are not as informed as we thought they were in terms of knowing their own cardiovascular risk factors, or knowing even which ones are associated with heart disease.
“A lot of times women say, ‘You know what? I didn’t feel well and didn’t realize I was having a heart attack!’ I’ve seen it many times.”
Dr. Gillian Einstein of Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto, adds:
“When it comes to health care for women, you have to start by recognizing they are not men. Biological differences, as well as social roles and practices, affect women’s health and health care needs. And that goes beyond the reproductive differences!”
Thanks to CanWest Media Services
(1) Canto JG, Rogers WJ, Goldberg RJ, et al. Association of Age and Sex With Myocardial Infarction Symptom Presentation and In-Hospital Mortality. JAMA. 2012;307(8):813-822.
- How Does It Really Feel To Have a Heart Attack? Women Survivors Tell Their Stories
- Researchers Openly Mock the ‘Myth’ of Women’s Unique Heart Attack Symptoms
- Downplaying Symptoms: Just Pretend It’s NOT a Heart Attack
- Mayo Clinic: “What Are the Symptoms of a Heart Attack for Women?”
© Carolyn Thomas www.myheartsisters.org