Heart disease: No. 1 killer of women

June 5, 2006

Women are increasingly aware that heart disease kills more of theirgender than any other health problem, but awareness may nottranslate into action. "There is need for improvement," said LoriMosca, M.D., Ph.D., director of preventive cardiology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, who studied women's awareness of heartdisease for the American Heart Association (AHA). "A significantgap remains between the perceived threat of heart disease and theactual risk, especially for minority and younger women."

Women are increasingly aware that heart disease kills more of their gender than any other health problem, but awareness may not translate into action. "There is need for improvement," said Lori Mosca, M.D., Ph.D., director of preventive cardiology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, who studied women's awareness of heart disease for the American Heart Association (AHA). "A significant gap remains between the perceived threat of heart disease and the actual risk, especially for minority and younger women."

Cardiovascular disease kills almost 500,000 women each year in the United States. All healthcare providers, including pharmacists, should play a role in empowering women to embrace that knowledge, said Wenger-especially considering that the AHA survey of women's perceptions reported that less than 40% of women said their physicians discuss heart disease with them.

Wenger and others said that in addition to a need for awareness of preventive measures, women need to be aware of the gender differences in heart disease diagnosis and treatment. One chilling example is that after a heart attack, women are more likely to die in the hospital than men, in part because they are less likely to receive cardiac catheterization, a key test to determine optimal treatment, according to the AHA.

Among additional differences are: