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One-third of women globally die of cardiovascular disease, yet women too often go undiagnosed and untreated, according to a report by a commission of 17 women experts from 11 countries.
Although cardiovascular disease prevalence has decreased among women by about 4% since 1990, it remains the leading cause of death in women. However, disease rates are increasing in rapidly industrializing, populous countries like China, India, and Indonesia, according to the report. Even so, clinicians and the general public often underestimate women’s heart disease risks.
Women are often excluded from cardiovascular disease clinical trials, and global health databases may not include information on sex-specific cardiovascular disease risks including early menopause, preterm delivery, and gestational hypertension. Socioeconomic and cultural factors may also increase women’s cardiovascular risks by, for example, limiting access to health care or options for physical activity.
To eliminate these disparities, the commission recommended more education for clinicians and the public about women’s heart health and more research focusing on sex-specific cardiovascular risk factors and interventions. Interventions that can be delivered at places where women routinely receive care, such as gynecologists’ offices, are essential. Global efforts also should address socioeconomic factors contributing to women’s heart risks, especially in lower-income or rapidly industrializing countries.
“Making permanent improvements to the worldwide care of women with [cardiovascular disease] requires coordinated efforts and partnerships involving policymakers, clinicians, researchers, and the wider community,” Roxana Mehran, MD, director of Interventional Cardiovascular Research and Clinical Trials at the Zena and Michael A. Wiener Cardiovascular Research Institute of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, said in a statement.
Kuehn BM. Urgent Need to Reduce Heart Disease Among Women Worldwide. JAMA. 2021;326(3):214. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.11409
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