This crucial health issue often goes unnoticed and is not openly talked about … it’s invisible. With our partners the Heart Foundation we are hoping to raise awareness of heart disease in women.
For decades there has been heavy focus on men and heart disease, with the result being that women often experience poorer heart health outcomes.
The aim now is to close the gender gap on awareness of heart disease as an important health issue. Together we hope to help improve Australian women’s heart health outcomes and reduce death and disability associated with heart disease.
Each year in Australia, approximately 36,000 men and 19,000 women suffer a heart attack. Yet despite men having nearly double the number of heart attacks, in 2014 4,256 women died of their heart attack compared to 4,070 men.
Together we can save women’s lives. It’s time to make the invisible visible.
- Heart disease is the single biggest killer of Australian men and women
- Heart disease currently claims the lives of 24 Australian women per day
- Three times as many women die of heart disease compared with breast cancer each year
Risk factors vary in women and men
While men often experience central chest pain when having a heart attack, women commonly interpret this pain as indigestion simply because they do not expect a heart attack. Download The Heart Foundation's information pack on warning signs for heart attack.
When experiencing a heart attack women are also more likely to feel:
- Pain in the jaw, back or neck
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, vomiting and cold sweats
- Overwhelming weakness or fatigue
- Anxiety, lethargy and loss of appetite
Because the symptoms of a heart attack can be different in women, many women are unaware of the warning signs of heart disease or a heart attack. In the event of a heart attack women are also less likely than men to seek help quickly.
40% of women with heart disease experience no chest pain at all.
Why are women different? Women’s experience of heart disease differs from men because:
- Women’s symptoms are often milder, they can arise later in the illness and they can be unusual
- Because heart disease in women often goes undetected, the damage caused can be more advanced and outcomes can be poorer than for men
- Some tests used to diagnose heart disease are also less accurate in women than they are in men
Other aspects affecting women are:
- Menopause. After reaching menopause women’s risk of heart disease increases substantially. This is believed to be because the low levels of the hormone oestrogen may provide less protection from heart disease
- Oral contraceptives, which increase the risk of heart disease in women who smoke
- Hormone replacement therapy, which it is now understood does not reduce the risk of heart disease in women who already suffer from it, and may also raise the risk of heart attacks and blood clots.
Because heart disease in women often goes undetected, the damage caused can be more advanced and outcomes can be poorer for men than for women.
How can you get involved?
Join the campaign! Simply, draw a heart on your body to make your heart visible. Share it on social media to raise vital awareness for this campaign. (Don't forget to use the hashtag #womenshearts)