Heart disease: Doctor explains how to reduce risk
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Barbara Streisand is well known for her achievements in film and television, which have led to her winning an Emmy and an Oscar. But not everyone knows that the 79-year-old has been working to improve the treatment for women with heart disease years after her mother was diagnosed.
In 2014, she started the Women’s Heart Alliance.
Ms Streisand told People Magazine in a recent interview: “Fifteen years ago I read a story in The New York Times about gender differences in heart health.
“I was shocked to learn that more women are dying from cardiovascular disease than from all cancers combined and aren’t receiving the same attention in diagnosis and treatment as men.”
“It just never made sense to me that women and men weren’t treated equally.”
In the United States, where Ms. Streisand is from, one in six women has coronary heart disease.
According to the Heart Research Institute in the UK, more than 3.5 million women live with the condition. Around 77 of those with the disease die every day.
Heart disease describes the process of the heart having its blood supply blocked or interrupted by a buildup of fatty substances such as cholesterol in the coronary arteries.
Ms Streisand added: “For so many years, heart disease was thought of as a man’s disease.
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“Women with similar or more unique symptoms were often misdiagnosed as having digestive problems or being emotionally stressed.”
A large study from 2019, funded by the British Heart Foundation found that despite advances in diagnosis tools, using sex-specific blood tests, women were half as likely to receive the treatment they were recommended.
Coronary revascularisation, for example, was given to 15 percent of women in the study compared to 34 percent of men.
This surgery uses a stent to clear up the coronary arteries.
Preventative treatments, such as the use of statins were only given to 16 percent of women compared to 26 percent of men.
“It’s essential that health care professionals are aware of the inequalities in heart care for women, and that everyone can spot the symptoms of a heart attack,” said Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, the Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation and Cardiologist.
Ms Streisand’s organisation recently launched a campaign to “sound the alarm” and “bring attention” to the health crisis.
“It is very important that young women are aware that they are experiencing heart disease at increasing rates,” she said.
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There are many coronary heart disease symptoms that men and women should look out for.
These include extreme tiredness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, joint pain, depression and anxiety, and rashes.
Other symptoms, according to the NHS, include feeling sick and a loss of appetite.
One of the best ways to prevent heart disease is by lifestyle changes, such as doing more exercise and having a diet low in fat.
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