22 Jul, 2015 One Woman, One Hour Dies
One in three Australian women dies every hour of heart disease (CVD). According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one-third of all female deaths are due to heart disease and stroke, and rising. CVD deaths globally are higher than all cancers. In Australia awareness and funding remains a low priority as Government funding for CVD hasn’t increased for last three years, so why is this killer disease under the radar by federal and state governments today?
This question continues to astonish CEO and Founder of Her Heart, Dr. Linda Worrall–Carter, a leading global authority on Cardiovascular Health for Women. While government funding has played a critical role in research, the translation of this into awareness needs significantly more attention as little is spent on educating the public and health professionals of this killer disease.
A recent survey of over 300 women showed that most women believed cancer is their biggest killer and they are completely unaware that heart disease kills one woman every hour in Australia and globally, 1 in 3. It’s time to educate and make women aware of this to reduce these alarming statistics. Heart disease is not all-bad news, 80% of deaths are preventable but the signs and symptoms are different to men.
In 2016, heart disease is still considered a man’s disease and is medically assessed using men’s symptoms. This has proven fatal for women, who (when eventually diagnosed) are referred for fewer tests and treatments (such as an angiogram) and post diagnosis the statistics of recovery are worse. 42% of women, who have suffered a heart attack, die within the first year compared with 24% of men. Women are twice as likely to die within the first two weeks of having a heart attack, and during recovery have more depression and are less likely to be referred to cardiac rehabilitation or prescribed the relevant drug therapy. “We are now at a critical stage where increased awareness is needed not only in the general community but across the medical, nursing and allied health community,” says Dr Worrall-Carter.
The alarming news is that risk factors are rising, in particular for women aged 20-39 years. Over three quarters of women have one risk factor and many have two to three. It only needs one to be dangerous – as 90% of cardiac events occur with only one risk factor. Sadly, most women are in the dark, and completely unaware that they could be doing something about it. The Australian Institute of Health & Welfare (AIHW) 2016 Burden of Disease report notes that smoking is still the number one issue followed by obesity with only 35% of Australians being at a healthy weight.
Whilst other chronic conditions such as diabetes are on the rise and the risks double in men, the risks triple in women. So how do we prevent heart disease?
Know the signs and symptoms: Women need to know the risks but also be aware of the symptoms. They don’t experience a typical ‘Hollywood heart attack’ with radiating chest pain down their arm; it can start with feeling generally tired, unwell and a heaviness or ache in the arm that radiates through the shoulder blades and possibly up through the jaw. They may feel short of breath and nauseous, and women often describe themselves as not feeling quite ‘right’.
Don’t delay: If women feel unusual pain in the neck, chest, shoulder, jaw, abdomen and/or through to the back, short of breath, sweaty, racing of the heart or feeling of ‘fluttering’, light headedness or nausea and vomiting we urge them not to wait, call for help and don’t drive. “I have interviewed many women who phoned a friend to seek their opinion, then organise family affairs whilst unaware of their immediate danger. No health professional will ever say you should not have called an ambulance, ‘you don’t want to literally die of embarrassment”, says Dr. Worrall-Carter.
Abour Her Heart Charity
Our vision is to reduce the death toll, save women’s lives around the world. Our focus is to create awareness and drive education across all areas of the community including health professionals. Women’s lives are precious and worth saving, if we work together we can reverse the statistics to one woman, one-hour lives.
Her Heart is the only global organisation focused on women’s heart health; investing and advocating awareness and education, not more research. We are the go-to-place for women, to access health and lifestyle advice, the latest and learn about the signs and prevention. Since launching in mid-2015, we have created a community of thousands of women in over 75 Countries around the world. It all started here in Australia and we want to encourage the Australian public, business, government and media to drive change and reduce heart disease deaths (in Australia) by 50% by 2025.
With support from our Partners / Sponsors and Supporters, we can create important innovative national programs and campaigns that encourage, motivate and support women to implement change and learn the good news – 80% of heart disease is preventable!
About Dr. Linda Worrall-Carter
Dr. Linda Worrall-Carter is Founder & CEO of Her Heart and a leading global authority on Cardiovascular Health for Women with over 25 years’ experience as a clinician, researcher, educator, academic and senior healthcare administrator. Previously she held the position as Professor of Cardiovascular Nursing, is widely published in the Australian and international health literature as well as having received funding of almost 9 million dollars. Linda has wide national and international networks and has been invited to work with a number of key national organisations including the Heart Foundation, NHMRC, and the ARC. She is a Fellow of the Cardiac Society of Australia and NZ, a founding member of the Australasian College of Cardiovascular Nurses and the Cardiovascular Nursing Council.
Since establishing Her Heart, Linda has been recognised for her efforts in raising awareness about heart disease in women at the National Female Entrepreneur Awards in late 2015, where Her Heart was also awarded the Casey Kinnaird Community Award. The award recognises that this is a global issue and that in a relatively short time Her Heart has reached over 75 different countries and gathered significant momentum.
On a personal level, Linda has a family history of heart disease (father, and aunts) and urges many family (and friends) to become proactive and improve their heart health. She says, “It is my belief that through informing women about the need to look after their heart health, that we can create a community of empowered women who will realise that it is necessary to put themselves first in order to be here for everyone else”.