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Janelle's story

Sobering statistics

Heart disease is the number one killer of Australian women.1 In fact, heart disease kills three times as many women as breast cancer.2

Sadly, an Australian woman dies from heart disease every hour, and 50 women suffer a heart attack every day.3 More than 48,000 women are treated in hospital for heart disease every year.4

But despite these sobering statistics, many women are unaware that they are also at risk of heart disease.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease refers to a range of conditions that affect the heart. The term ‘heart disease’ is often used interchangeably with the term ‘cardiovascular disease,’ which refers to all diseases of the heart and circulation. These include coronary heart disease, atrial fibrillation, heart attack, congenital heart disease and stroke.

My mother had developed severe headaches over a period of time and after visiting more than half a dozen doctors, no-one could figure out what was wrong with her.” – Janelle Martin

The risk

While there is no one cause of heart disease, there are several factors that increase risk. Just a few simple lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthier diet and participating in regular physical activity, can help every women reduce their risk.

It’s also important to be aware of heart disease and heart attack symptoms. These can present themselves differently in women than in men, which can lead to a delay in seeking medical help.

No-one ever gave much thought to the possibility that her heart was the problem, as she didn’t fit the stereotype for heart disease.” – Janelle Martin


1 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Causes of Death 2017, ABS cat. no. 3303.0, September.

2 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2010. Women and heart disease: cardiovascular profile of women in Australia. Cardiovascular disease series no. 33. Cat. no. CVD 49. Canberra: AIHW.

3 Australian Bureau of Statistics. Causes of Death 2014 (3303.0). March 2016.

4 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, National Hospital Morbidity Database 2012/13.


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