Heart disease three more times likely to kill women than breast cancer

24 Oct 2016
Heart disease three more times likely to kill women than breast cancer

Women are three times more likely to die from heart disease than breast cancer, yet few are aware of the dangers until it is too late, a researcher at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute says.

Peta King said that because many women believed heart disease was more of a problem for men, they neglected the signs that they were also at risk, even though 24 women die every day from the illness.

Heart researcher Peta King warns women should be more aware of heart disease. 

“If you do a simple Google search of heart attack, the images on the first screen on your window are all men,’’ she said.

“All the advertising campaigns is a man in his 50s, slightly overweight, grabbing at his chest and having a heart attack. There are no images of women, so women don’t associate themselves with having this risk.’’

Ms King, who will be among four speakers at a SAHMRI public forum on Thursday on heart health, said it was vital to raise awareness of the risk heart disease posed.

Rates of heart disease in women rise dramatically after menopause because oestrogen helps protect the heart. However, risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol were still present in younger women and Ms King said it was important women had them checked.

“Men are more likely to die from a heart attack than women between the ages of 40 and 60, but women very rapidly catch up in that higher age group,’’ she said.

“Women more often nag their husband, their brother, their father, their partner to go to the doctor to get their blood pressure checked, but I think women duck in and duck out of GPs and don’t have the time to sit down and chat about their risks of heart disease,’’ she said.

Ms King also said heart disease in women was not as well understood as it is men because fewer registered for clinical trials.