Over the past decade, studies have suggested that almost twice as many women are now aware that heart disease is our leading cause of death. But awareness of this fact is still disturbingly low. For example, when cardiologist Dr. Lori Mosca of Columbia University Medical Center surveyed 2,300 women to measure their awareness of heart disease risk and to evaluate awareness trends since 1997, her results showed:
- although awareness of heart disease has improved since 1997, one-third of women are still unaware that it is the leading cause of death in females
- many women continue to believe that unproven therapies will reduce their heart disease risk
- only about one-half of women said they would call 911 if they thought they were having symptoms of a heart attack, which Mosca said was “incredibly discouraging.” She added:
“Women by nature put themselves at the bottom of the list—they do not like to bother people to look after them. But they do look after others. They need to realize that they have to make more effort to look after themselves or they may not be around to look after those others.”
This study, commissioned by the American Heart Association, was published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. Mosca told a heartwire interviewer:
“Our most striking finding is the ongoing lack of awareness of cardiovascular risk and heart attack in women. And people are always looking for a magic bullet, but there is no such thing.
“They do not like the message that they need to follow a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet and regular exercise, but that will do them much more good than taking vitamins. Many are still completely unaware of what the symptoms are and what to do if they have those symptoms.”
And it seems that women are not the only ones who may be clueless about how deadly heart disease can be for us. When the AHA surveyed physicians in 2005, a measly 8% of family doctors were aware that more women than men die each year from heart disease.
But the truly astonishing results came from the cardiologists surveyed, of whom only 17% reportedly knew this fact. Cardiologists! This is their business. This is all they do.
The survey also found that physicians did not rate themselves as being very effective in their ability to help their patients prevent cardiovascular disease.
Find out more about women’s heart attack symptoms.
Q: Why aren’t women more aware of our risks for heart disease?
- The sad reality of women’s heart disease hits home
- Heart disease: women’s #1 cause of untimely death
- Gender differences in heart attack treatment contribute to women’s higher death rates
- How a woman’s heart is different from a man’s
- Heart disease – not just a man’s disease anymore
- The myth of the “Hollywood Heart Attack” for women
3 thoughts on “Heart disease: “You’ve come a long way, baby!” – or have you?”
Yes, I totally agree that more should be done to raise awareness.
This is not good news, even though awareness seems to be growing. We need to take a page from the Breast Cancer people and the big PINK ribbon campaign. Thanks for doing your part to keep letting us know more about women’s heart disease.