Over the years, there are have been significant improvements in the number of patients surviving from heart attacks, stroke and heart failure. However, this can easily change. There are two factors that could easily send these numbers up again. First of all, many ethnic groups, that make up Canada’s ethno-cultural diversity, such as individuals from China, South Asia and the Aboriginal culture, have much higher rates of cardiovascular disease. Secondly, the rising rates of childhood obesity may mean more people suffering from cardiovascular disease at a younger age.In addition, for the first time, more Canadian women than men are dying of cardiovascular disease. Researchers state this could be attributed to three principal reasons:

  1. Smoking rates are now similar among women and men
  2. Research show differences in the care between men and women
  3. There may be gender-based biological differences in how heart disease presents itself.

In 2012, the total number of Canadians that died from heart disease were 66,178. Of these, 33,196 were women and 32,982 were men. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death, disability and hospitalization for women over the age of 35. Statistically speaking, 38 per cent of women die within a year of having a heart attack, compared to 25 per cent of men. Heart disease is not only a man’s disease. There are major differences in how heart disease occurs in men and women and its treatment. Some feel that men and women have heart attacks differently. For example, in men, arterial plaque breaks off, causing a clot and crushing chest pain – a chest-clutching heart attack. In women, the plaque tends to erode, gradually blocking the artery, so women suffer fatigue and pain around the shoulders, back and arm, often being misdiagnosed. Women’s heart attacks are misdiagnosed between 26 and 54 per cent of the time, according the published research. Although, the risk factors for women and men are common, women with heart disease tend to have worse outcomes because the prevention is lacking and treatment is delayed. Until a generation ago, cardiovascular research focused almost exclusively on men. Most Canadian women have at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Women who with diabetes, coming from certain ethnic backgrounds or are menopausal are some examples.It wasn’t until 2004 that the first gender-specific treatment guidelines for cardiovascular disease were published. It is important for every woman to know about their risk factors and recognize the signs for heart disease and stroke so that you can prevent and manage them.