European Cardiologists: Heart Disease Bigger Killer of Women than Breast Cancer
This has been a big month for news about heart disease. Two of the most influential American and European cardiology organizations have issued reports regarding recent heart disease findings. Ironically, American doctors focused on news that a diet imported from Europe—the Mediterranean diet—could slash heart disease risk almost in half. Meanwhile, European cardiologists honed in on the fact that women in Europe are far more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer.
In fact, heart disease kills 51% of women in Europe, while just 3% die due to breast cancer. This underscores how wrong the common perception is that heart disease is largely a man’s disease. In contrast, cardiovascular disease (CVD) kills just 42% of men in Europe. If anything, CVD is more of a woman’s disease in Europe. CVD comprises atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attack, and stroke. As in the United States, CVD is the number one killer of women. And it’s preventable, in large part.
That’s because we now understand the risk factors that are linked to the development of CVD. Some of them—smoking, carrying excess body weight, having high blood pressure (hypertension), being sedentary, having type 2 diabetes, eating a poor diet—are easily modifiable. If you smoke, of course, that’s the first place to start. Quitting can add years to your projected lifespan. To say nothing of your “healthspan,” meaning the time you get to spend in a state of relatively good health.
High blood pressure often develops only after excess body weight becomes an issue. The same can usually be said for type 2 diabetes. Both can be modified through more consistent exercise and better diet. And by diet, it’s inevitable that doctors should recommend the Mediterranean diet. It’s the traditional dietary pattern practiced throughout the Mediterranean basin. It’s just about the ideal diet, because study after study has shown that it keeps you healthier longer. And that includes reducing the risk of CVD, diabetes, hypertension, some cancers, and other conditions.
European cardiologists note that one of the reasons women think heart disease is a man’s issue has to do with the way women experience heart disease symptoms. In contrast to men, women are less likely to experience classic chest pains. They’re more likely to experience symptoms that may be ignored or misidentified. Accordingly, women are advised to become familiar with the potential signs.
“Instead of chest pain, women having a heart attack may experience nausea/vomiting, shortness of breath, jaw pain, fatigue, palpitations, syncope (fainting), or cardiac arrest. They need to call  urgently as soon as the symptoms of a heart attack or stroke start,” said Dr Susanna Price, European Society of Cardiology spokesperson.
European College of Cardiology website. About page. Press. Press releases. Accessed Mar. 6, 2015 from: http://www.escardio.org/about/press/press-releases/pr-15/Pages/cardiovascular-disease-kills-more-women-than-cancer.aspx?hit=dontmiss