Sophia Antipolis, France, 10 February 2006:
Every year, 55% of all women who die in Europe, die from a cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD affects more women than cancer or any other ailment, yet most are unaware that heart disease is the greatest threat to their health or understand that the risk increases with age.
Take this opportunity to urge a woman in your life to take care of her heart. Simple changes in lifestyle -- such as quitting smoking, exercising and eating more fruits and vegetables -- can minimize heart disease and prolong life. This year the ESC has created an E-card promoting women’s heart health.
“Women believe they can smoke or over-eat without risk of heart disease as they may not have seen their female peers having heart problems up to 50 years old,” said Silvia Priori, of the Fondazione Salvatore Maugeri Pavia in Italy and a European Society of Cardiology (ESC) board member. “What they don’t understand is heart disease strikes women later, but it does strike and when it does it is often too late to reverse years of unhealthy living. Women need to be better educated on the importance of heart-healthy lifestyles and sufficiently screened for risk factors before heart disease strikes.”
The ESC has several projects designed to help health care professionals better assess the risks of women. Woman at Heart, launched in March 2005, highlights to medical professionals the growing burden and under-appreciation of women’s heart disease. A goal is to promote improved handling of women at risk of CVD in clinical practise and to alert physicians about the differences in symptoms and risk factors between men and women. For a variety of reasons -- including that diagnostic signs are different in women than they are in men -- women with CVD are still under-diagnosed and under-treated.
“It is important that we ensure that cardiovascular diseases in women are better understood and that the prevention of risk factors is actively promoted among female patients,” said Professor Priori, who is chairperson of Women at Heart. “This isn’t ‘women’s lib’ but rather a necessity for good medical practice.”
Through Women at Heart, the ESC is working towards an increased awareness across Europe that CVD is the primary cause of death in women; a better understanding of women’s risk factors and presentation profiles by the medical profession; improved treatment of women with CVD by the medical profession and an increased representation of women in clinical trials. Next month Professor Priori will announce the results of a Policy Conference on CVD in Women and will make recommendations about how to best accomplish these goals.
The European Society of Cardiology (ESC)
The ESC represents more than 45,000 cardiology professionals across Europe and the Mediterranean. Its mission is to improve the quality of life of the European population by reducing the impact of cardiovascular disease.
The ESC administrative headquarters are based at the European Heart House, Sophia Antipolis, France.