But gaps remain in how to best diagnose, treat and prevent it, according to data published Tuesday in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. The issue is dedicated to health issues for women, who are generally underrepresented in cardiovascular research studies.
Women who’ve had heart attacks inaccurately assess their own personal risks of heart disease, reported poor preventive health behaviors and delayed seeking medical care, according to researchers who studied a group of 30 women.
These factors may be partially to blame for why young women face a higher risk of a fatal heart attack compared to men.
And in a review of heart failure prevalence and therapies, researchers noted that women are equally as likely as men to have heart failure, but are more likely to die.
About 5.7 million Americans are living with heart failure and it’s one of the most common reasons people age 65 and older go into the hospital.
While they’re equally likely to benefit from advanced therapies, including heart transplant and left ventricular assist device, women are less likely to be referred for these therapies and if referred, receive them at a later stage. Researchers said a better understanding of these sex differences is needed in the delivery of advanced heart failure therapy.
The journal also includes a special perspective from American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown. She said the AHA has helped drive big changes in women’s heart disease risk awareness through Go Red For Women and other initiatives.
In 1997, an AHA study showed only 8 percent of women understood that heart disease was their greatest health threat; today it’s 54 percent.
“Despite these wins, women are still dying prematurely, and more women than men continue to die from cardiovascular disease,” Brown said. “Significantly increasing women’s representation in clinical trials and studies, so they receive the right cardiovascular diagnoses and appropriate treatment is critical.”