If asked to name the No. 1 killer of women, many people might be excused for providing an incorrect answer. Various issues affect women’s health, and some issues garner more attention than others. But nothing kills more women each year than cardiovascular disease, which the American Heart Association notes causes one in three deaths of women each year.
That cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women each year is not the only surprising fact in regard to women and heart health. The following are some additional interesting facts, courtesy of the American Heart Association and other sources.
• The 2019 Global Burden of Disease study from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimated there are 275 million women around the world with cardiovascular disease.
• Awareness among women regarding the threat posed by heart disease has decreased dramatically in recent years. In 2020, a special report from the AHA indicated that, in 2009, 65 percent of women were aware that heart disease is their leading cause of death. By 2019, that figure had dropped to 44 percent.
• Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of new moms. The AHA notes that could be linked to a host of variables, including obesity. Data from a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that examined pregnancies in 48 states and the District of Columbia found that pre-pregnancy obesity increased by 8 percent between 2011 and 2015. During that same period, severe pre-pregnancy obesity increased by 14 percent. Obesity is considered a significant risk factor for heart disease.
• The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada reports that the No. 1 cause of premature death in women in Canada is heart disease and stroke.
• More than half of all high blood pressure deaths are in women. The AHA reports that nearly 52 percent of deaths caused by hypertension (high blood pressure) occur in women.
• Nearly 58 percent of Black women have hypertension. That’s the highest percentage among women of any race or ethnicity.
• Despite the significant percentage of global heart disease deaths affecting women, a 2021 study published in the journal The Lancet found that cardiovascular disease in women is understudied, under-recognized, underdiagnosed, and undertreated.
• The Canadian Women’s Heart Health Centre reports that menopause before the age of 45 is linked to a 50 percent higher risk of heart disease.
• The World Health Organization reports that one-third of all ischaemic heart disease diagnoses across the globe are attributable to high cholesterol. According to the CWHHC, one in two women have elevated cholesterol.
• A 2017 study of more than 19,000 people who had cardiac events found that only 39 percent of women received CPR from bystanders in public compared to 45 percent of men. Researchers linked that disparity to fears of being accused of inappropriate touching, potential lawsuits and concerns that administering CPR to women could cause physical injury.