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Why we must do more to prevent heart disease in Aussie women

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Australian researchers are calling for urgent action to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease in women – the leading cause of death for women around the world.

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The first global report on the issue urges action to tackle inequities in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart disease.

Seventeen experts from 11 countries, including Australia, authored the study, which found heart, stroke and blood vessel disease in women was understudied, under-recognised, underdiagnosed and undertreated.

Around 2.1 million Australian women have cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, and it accounts for about one-in-four female deaths.

Cardiovascular disease accounts for 35 per cent of women’s deaths worldwide each year.

The all female-led commission outlines 10 new recommendations to tackle inequities in targeting diagnosis, treatment and prevention to reduce cardiovascular disease in women.

They include health professional and patient education, more heart health programs and prioritising research on heart disease in women.

Heart Foundation Director of Health Strategy Julie Anne Mitchell said more needed to be done to increase awareness.

“But more work is also needed to address knowledge gaps and the barriers women face in getting access to services that best meet their needs,” she said in a statement on Monday.

“This report reinforces that strategies to reduce heart disease in women should be targeted to the most vulnerable people globally, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia.”

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are almost twice as likely as non-Indigenous women to have heart, stroke and vascular disease.

“We also support the report’s finding of the barriers that exist to healthcare for women living in disadvantaged, rural and remote areas.

“Telehealth is one of the essential tools to address inequity by delivering heart health care to women no matter where they live,” Ms Mitchell said.

Women and cardiovascular disease Commission: reducing the global burden by 2030, is published in the Lancet.

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