Cardiovascular disease is still perceived as a men’s problem. Yet, women are 5 times more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer. They are also more likely to succumb to a heart attack than men. In a poorly equipped health system to diagnose and treat crises, prejudices persist as victims fall. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among women worldwide. While more men suffer from heart disease, the gap between the two sexes is steadily decreasing. Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death among Canadian women. They are also more likely than men to die from heart attacks.
Heart issues in women are often misdiagnosed as anxiety. Too many doctors take too long to detect the warning signs of a heart attack in women. The reaction time that it takes for certain women to be taken seriously and to treat her could be fatal. Being taken care of on time allowed women to avoid more serious problems.
Some women present their doctor with really weird symptoms and they just stared without saying anything, a small smile on his face, as if their patient were exaggerating and worrying for nothing. They simply don’t take it seriously. Let’s say it’s not very reassuring. Many women have commented that they feel like the doctors are only half listening to them.
This lack of understanding of women’s hearts is explained by a complex set of factors. One of them is that, for decades, research has focused almost exclusively on men. Another is that women are more likely to take care of others before taking care of themselves. I know I was guilty of this prior to my multiple chronic illness diagnoses.