Take women’s heart health seriously, warns Foundation

women's heart health: woman makes heart shape with hands backlit by sunset

As part of the Heart Foundation’s annual Go Red for Women campaign the charity has issued a warning to health professionals and women everywhere to take heart health seriously.

National Heart Foundation spokesperson on women’s health, Julie Anne Mitchell says that every hour of every day we lose a woman to heart disease.

“Many people think that heart disease is an old man’s disease, but the fact is heart disease doesn’t discriminate; it affects all ages, men and women,” she says.

“As a percentage, heart disease takes roughly the same amount of lives of both men (14%) and women (12%).

“It’s unclear as to why there is a misconception that heart disease affects men more than women but what we do know is that women often prioritise the health of others over their own which may lead to a delay seeking a heart health check from their GP.

“Women are also less likely to receive heart related procedures than men when they reach hospital – such as angiograms, bypasses and stents,” Mitchell says.

Women admitted to hospital with heart disease are less likely than men to have a number of heart related procedures including:

  • Coronary angiography (24 per 100 hospitalisations for women, 30 for men)[1];
  • Echocardiography (five per 100 hospitalisations for women, six for men)1;
  • Percutaneous coronary interventions – or stents (16 per 100 hospitalisations for women, 22 for men) 1; and
  • Bypass surgery (five per 100 hospitalisations for women, nine for men) 1.


“More worryingly, women have higher in-hospital death rates and if they do survive, they’re more likely than men to die of a second heart attack (21% death rate for women, compared to 14% for men),” says Mitchell.

“Which is why there is an urgent need to do more.”

Total healthcare expenditure on women with heart disease is less than half of that spent on men.  In 2013 $1.365 billion was spent on men, compared to $663 million on women.

Despite women with heart disease spending longer in hospital than men, more is spent on men per hospital stay than women, on average around 20% ($8,685 for women per hospital stay compared to $10,368 for men).

“The Heart Foundation is working to turn this all around through our Go Red for Women campaign,” says Mitchell.

“We are calling on the public to help support our campaign by going red and donating to our cause.  To find out how you can get involved visit goredforwomen.org.au,” Ms Mitchell said.

[1] AIHW, National Hospital Morbidity Database 2012/12.

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