Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD) are the leading cause of death for women globally. According to the latest report by The Lancet Commission on Women and Cardiovascular Disease, based on data from the 2019 Global Burden of Disease study, approximately 275 million women are living with CVD, while 7 million are dying from CVD annually, around the world. Ischemic heart disease (47% of CVD deaths) followed by stroke (36% of CVD deaths) are the leading causes of death in women worldwide.
Despite the increased awareness, only 56% of women globally recognise that CVD is a threat to their health and do not do enough to combat this. The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) is dedicated to empowering women to take care of their heart and brain health by adopting healthy life choices and healthy behaviours.
HSFSA CEO, Prof Pamela Naidoo, applauds the Lancet in publishing the outcome of the work of The Lancet Commission on women and cardiovascular disease. “It is vitally important to disaggregate data so that we can understand in-depth, the risk and differences in both men and women.”
In South Africa, the proportion of CVD deaths in women aged between 35–59 years is one and a half times more likely than that of women in the United States (World Heart Federation 2017). Moreover, women aged 55 years and younger are more likely to die than men within a year of their first heart attack (Harvard Health Publishing, 2016).
Women with heart disease are frequently neither accurately diagnosed, nor do they receive the right health care. In a survey conducted by the American Heart Association, about half of the women interviewed knew that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, yet only 13% said it was their greatest personal health risk, even though heart disease kills six times as many women than cancer every year.