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NZ women urged to get serious about heart health

May 1, 2016

NZ women urged to get serious about heart health

With heart disease claiming the lives of more than 50 women each week, the Heart Foundation is urging Kiwi women to start taking their heart health seriously and initiating discussions with GPs before it’s too late.

The stark warning comes as the Heart Foundation launches its annual Go Red For Women campaign today. The focus of the campaign is to raise awareness of the seriousness of heart disease among women and the need for them and their families to be more vigilant.

“Heart disease is the single biggest killer of New Zealand women,” says Gerry Devlin, Heart Foundation Medical Director.

“All too often, women are putting off taking care of their own health due to a range of factors, from family commitments through to time pressures and stress.
“Research shows that women across all age groups are less likely than men to talk to a GP about their heart health. This needlessly places them at greater risk of living with undiagnosed heart disease or having a heart event.”

However, Gerry says there are some simple steps women can take to fix the problem.

“Women in particular age groups need to be more proactive about getting a heart check-up, even if they don’t feel they are at risk.”

As a matter of course, European women should get their heart checked from the age of 55, while Maori, Pacific and Indo-Asian women need check-ups from the age of 45, Gerry says.

“Women with known risk factors – such as a family history of heart attack or stroke, who smoke or who have high blood pressure – should also get their heart checked from aged 45.”
Gerry says another problem is that many women don’t know how to recognise the warning signs of a heart attack, which can vary between men and women.

Like men, the most common heart attack symptom for women is chest pain or discomfort, he says. However, women are more likely to experience other less obvious symptoms such as discomfort in the upper back, nausea, sweating and unusual fatigue.

“Further exacerbating the problem is that women with heart disease are also less likely than men to take their prescribed medications,” Gerry says.

“This is particularly worrying given that adherence to a prescribed medication regime has the potential to reduce future heart event rates by up to 80 per cent.

“It’s vital that Kiwi women start taking more time to look after their own health so they can be around longer for loved ones.”


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