Heart disease research has often circumvented the complications of the menstrual cycle and pregnancy, says new report
Christina Stuwe’s triple bypass open heart surgery in 2018 was a life-saving operation for her Calgary mother.
However, the need for surgery went largely unnoticed by medical professionals, her arrhythmia test results were inconclusive, and she was told to come back in a year.
After Stuwe and her husband sought further tests, including an angiogram, multiple blocked arteries were discovered in her heart. And discovered the fact that she had unwittingly had a heart attack three years before her.
“My heart reaction was really putting everyone off, and they couldn’t really explain it,” Stuwe said.
“Once something was discerned in my mind, even though I knew clearly something was wrong, it seemed to be put off… If I had waited a year, I would have had another heart attack and died.” may have been.”
Stuwe’s experience highlights the struggle of Canada’s healthcare system to provide adequate care for women with cardiovascular disease.
Gender gaps in medical diagnosis and care, research and awareness put women at risk for both heart and brain disease, according to a Heart and Stroke Foundation report released Wednesday.
According to the report, women face different risk factors for heart disease than men due to biological differences, but the medical system historically did not take those differences into account. Inequalities are exacerbated when considering groups that include women of low socioeconomic status, women living in rural and remote areas.
Studies have often circumvented the complications of the menstrual cycle and pregnancy
Heart disease is the leading cause of premature death in Canadian women, says Kara Nellenberg, Ph.D., a clinical scientist at the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine who works to prevent heart disease and stroke in young women. .
In the past, she said, many women-specific cardiovascular studies have been excluded by researchers to avoid dealing with the complications of the menstrual cycle and pregnancy in their studies.
This means that treatments developed to treat heart disease that work for men won’t work for women, Nerenberg said.
“This is because of different biology, hormonal changes, and how it affects drug metabolism, or it can simply affect dosage,” Nerenberg said, adding that women with heart disease He added that he was underdiagnosed with regard to
“Even in Alberta, we know women are getting fewer heart tests and heart medications.”
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Women may experience symptoms differently than men
Some pregnancies can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, Nerenberg said, highlighting the need for more appropriate and regular screening for women.
She said health care providers as well as women need to be aware that heart disease manifests itself in different ways between men and women.
“We know that many women experience the same symptoms as men with heart disease: chest pain, shortness of breath. and may not be explained in the same way as men.
“As a society as a whole, we need to pay more attention to our body signs, whether it’s for men or women. , we need to pay attention to ourselves,” Stuwe said.