On International Women’s Day, the issue of women’s heart health must be front and centre in any discussions on gender equity, the Heart Foundation has said.
Heart Foundation National CEO Adjunct Professor John Kelly said the issue of women and heart disease presented a significant gender equity challenge.
“Heart disease is the number one killer of Australian women, claiming 24 lives each day.” Adj Professor Kelly said.
“The most recent available figures show that healthcare expenditure on men with heart disease doubled that of women. All this evidence points to the need for a comprehensive approach to the identification, treatment and prevention of heart disease in women as well as the need for a widespread awareness campaign aimed at medical practitioners and the broader public.
“A recent study by Sydney’s George Institute, which showed that women were less likely to be reviewed by their General Practitioner for heart disease risk factors, offers another compelling case in point. As the study’s authors observed, it points to a distinct gender divide when it comes to Australia’s number one killer.”
Among the key facts which highlight issues around women’s heart health include the following:
Adj Professor Kelly said an investment in research – and in researchers - was another critical element in addressing the issue.
“We need to achieve more female representation at the research and clinical level. More women need to be involved in the analysis of the results of medical trials as this will greatly advance our overall understanding of the subtle, but significant gender differences that exist in heart disease,” he said.
“A clear precedent for greater and more thoughtful investment in research can be seen in the effect of significant increases in investment in breast cancer research, a development which over the past three decades has had a hugely positive impact on survival rates.
“When it comes to gender equity, recent decades have seen advances made in most areas, but these barriers persist – not least in the prevention, identification and treatment of heart disease.”
The Heart Foundation’s annual Making the Invisible Visible (MIV) campaign is an initiative aimed at raising awareness raising of the issue of women and heart disease
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