Women & Heart Health

The face of heart disease is changing.

Many women think of cardiovascular disease as a “man’s disease.” But that’s simply not true. In fact, women are more likely than men to die of a heart attack or stroke.

In Canada, stroke kills 32 per cent more women than men. And women are 16 per cent more likely than men to die after a heart attack.

There are a number of factors that may account for the increase in women’s risks of heart attack and stroke: women are less likely to recognize the symptoms of these diseases and seek treatment quickly; men and women are often treated differently by the health system, with men receiving more prompt and proactive treatment; and women have a number of unique risks, such as pregnancy and menopause.

In fact, most Canadian women have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke. As they age, estrogen levels, which offer them a degree of protection against heart disease and stroke when they are younger, begin to decline.

But there are many other factors that can affect your heart health, no matter what your age. It’s important to understand and manage your unique risks to improve your health and reduce your risk of disease.

Often, your body will send out warning signs of a heart attack or stroke. By being aware of these warning signs and acting on them quickly, you can make sure you receive prompt treatment that could save your life or minimize the damage to your health.

There is good news for women and heart health. There are many things you can do to reduce your risk and heart disease and stroke, and in some cases—for instance in some of the new stroke treatments—female patients benefit even more than male patients do.

The bottom line is that awareness—of your risks, of the warning signs, and of prevention and treatment options—is your best defense against heart disease and stroke.