While awareness, prevention, early detection and treatment slowly chisel away at the staggering number of women who die of heart disease each year, the disease remains the top health issue for women in the United States.
Heart disease kills an average of 420,000 women each year through stroke or heart attack, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. One dollar of every $6 spent on health care is associated with the national health crisis.
Last June, the Society for Women’s Health Research released the long-awaited “10Q Report: Advancing Women’s Heart Health through Improved Research, Diagnosis and Treatment.”
The report, an update to the 2006 version, shows that there is still a void in answers to questions about how cardiovascular disease impacts the sexes differently. SWHR found that, though it is known that women’s symptoms and treatment are different than those for men, the medical industry has not adapted to these facts as well as one would hope.
“The 10Q Report shows the major need to focus research funding appropriately for CVD [cardiovascular disease] to understand the important sex differences in heart health,” Phyllis Greenberger, president and CEO of the research society, said in a statement. “SWHR and WomenHeart consulted with cardiovascular experts to identify these top 10 unanswered questions to aid researchers in the study of prevention and treatment of this number one killer of women.”
In a statement released February 1, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius noted that February, being National Heart Month, is a time to recognize how far the medical industry has come in prevention, early detection and treatment, and to reflect on your risks of cardiovascular disease and how you can reduce those risks.
Some of the best ways to reduce your risk of heart disease include: quitting smoking; reducing consumption of fats and oils; managing your weight; consistently participating in physical activity; and reducing your stress. Heart.org has more information on ways to improve women’s health.
In 2004, the average number of women who died from cardiovascular disease was 500,000. This staggering number – in conjunction with the widespread misnomer that cardiovascular disease is the “old man’s killer” – led the AHA to launch Go Red For Women.
The social initiative utilized the red dress symbol representing women and heart disease, established in 2003 by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in conjunction with the AHA and other women’s health groups. Women are asked to wear red to create synergy around the cause, according to the AHA.
This year, actress and director Elizabeth Banks created a short film for the Go Red For Women campaign. The video, which explores how today’s multitasking woman (mother, wife, businessperson, community activist, etc.) could be at risk of cardiovascular disease, is aptly titled “Just A Little Heart Attack.”