Women’s heart and brain health are at risk as inequities persist

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Women face distinct risk factors for heart disease and stroke – and at different points in their lives including pregnancy and menopause. Photo: Pexels


(Heart & Stroke Foundation) — Gaps in awareness, research, diagnosis and care threaten women’s heart and brain health according to a new Heart & Stroke report: System failure: Healthcare inequities continue to leave women’s heart and brain health behind. Many women are at further risk due to intersecting and overlapping factors such as race, ethnicity, Indigeneity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, geography, body size, and ability.

Women’s bodies are not the same as men’s – and neither are their lives. Biological differences mean that females face distinct risk factors, they are more likely to experience certain types of heart and brain conditions, and social differences affect their health. Some progress has been made but not enough and the consequences are stark: Heart disease and stroke claimed the lives of 32,271 women in Canada in 2019 – one woman’s life every 16 minutes.

There is a continued lack of awareness and understanding around women’s heart and brain health. Two-thirds of participants in clinical trials on heart disease and stroke have been men and when women are included, an analysis based on sex and gender is not always done. (…)

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