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Women and heart disease
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Women and heart disease

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in Australian women.

Heart disease in women is largely underrecognised, underdiagnosed and underresearched, despite the fact that it is a leading cause of death in Australian women.

For over ten years, the Heart Foundation has worked to raise women’s awareness of heart disease and work with health professionals to improve heart health outcomes for women. 

The Women and Heart Disease Forum 

Our 2019 Women and Heart Disease Forum brought  together a range of multidisciplinary experts and women directly impacted by heart disease, to present findings and share experiences. 

The topics discussed included:
  • Heart disease in women – what does it look like and how is it different? 
  • Who are the populations of women at risk? 
  • Vascular conditions of pregnancy and their impact on heart health of mother and child 
  • Psychosocial issues and their impact on women’s heart health 
  • National action areas.  

Pregnancy and heart disease 

Improving heart health for women who experience vascular conditions during pregnancy was a key focal area of the Women and Heart Disease Forum. Cardiovascular disease risk associated with pregnancy has until recent times been poorly acknowledged, researched and understood. Women with pre-eclampsia or gestational hypertension have a higher risk of hypertension and cardiovascular disease. 

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection 

Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD) occurs when a split or separation suddenly develops between the layers of the wall of one of the blood vessels (artery) that provides blood flow to the heart. SCAD is rare but is increasingly identified as a cause of Acute Coronary Syndrome for women – most frequently with women with few or no cardiac risk factors.

Women in cardiology  

Cardiology is the study of heart diseases and heart abnormalities. Cardiology is an area of medicine with low female representation, particularly in the subspecialties of interventional cardiology and electrophysiology. 
As a response, a number of women cardiology groups have formed around the world to provide mentorship, visible role models and foster opportunities for research collaboration. 
 
 In Australia there are two notable groups:
  1. The NSW Hearts and Heels Female Cardiology Roundtable, and  
  2. The Victorian Women in Cardiology Group.  
The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ) has also established the Women in Cardiology Working Group. Visit the CSANZ website for more information.  

Reports and statements 

Read more information about women and heart disease with these reports and statements.  

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