Now a public health priority across Europe due to its associated mortality rate, cardiovascular disease among women remains minimised, while still under-prevented and under-screened.
Contrary to popular misconceptions, cardiovascular diseases are not a male-specific issue. In the USA as in Europe, cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality among women, often ahead of cancer. The number of hospitalisations resulting from certain cardiac pathologies such as heart attacks increases among women aged 45 to 54, whereas it decreases among men of the same age.
The reason these diseases are affecting women at an increasingly young age is that, over the past twenty years, their lifestyle has become comparable to that of men. Lack of exercise, a poorly-balanced diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, stress, social uncertainty, isolation… are all contributing factors to the emergence of cardiovascular disease among the female population. Today, these risk factors account for 80% of cardiovascular events. To these general risk factors can be added female-specific risks, such as smoking while taking birth control pills. The symptoms of cardiovascular diseases are often less obvious than they are among men, which is why longer time often elapses before they are recognised and treated. It is for this reason that women must take care of their heart and arteries, with particular attention paid to the three phases of their hormonal lives: contraception, pregnancy, and menopause. It is important not to hesitate to seek an adapted medical check-up, particularly if cardiovascular disease is prevalent among the family and/if you carry certain risk factors (smoking, stress, a sedentary lifestyle, excess weight or obesity, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, high blood pressure…).
These days, coupled with a lifestyle-related risk prevention plan, the progress that has been made in terms of medical imaging (coronary calcium score, CT-angiogram…) or functional exams allows for the early detection of cardiac diseases and more efficient treatment.