More women die of heart disease than men: WHO report

Contradicting conventional wisdom, the largest-ever worldwide collaborative study of heart disease has found that women are slightly more likely to die from cardiovascular disease (CVD) than men and that heart attacks and strokes kill twice as many women as all cancers combined, the World Health Agency said today.

Out of the total 16.5 million CVD deaths annually, 8.6 million are of women, according to the study. The MONICA (MONItoring CArdiovascular disease) Monograph report is the result of a major research project conceived in 1979 in which teams from 38 populations in 21 countries studied heart disease, stroke and risk factors from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.

The launch has been timed to coincide with World Heart Day, on 28 September, whose theme 'Women, heart disease and stroke' aims to draw urgent attention to the fact that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is not just a men’s health problem.

“Although most women fear cancer, particularly breast cancer, they do not make the same efforts to safeguard themselves from heart disease, which is eminently preventable,” said Dr Catherine Le Galès-Camus, WHO Assistant Director-General, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health.

“We must strive to make women aware that to keep their hearts healthy, they need to eat smart, kick smoking and move for health.”

Worldwide activities to increase awareness of heart disease in women will be organized on World Heart Day by the World Heart Federation, an NGO dedicated to the prevention of heart disease and stroke.

The launch of the MONICA (MONItoring CArdiovascular disease) Monograph culminates a major research project, conceived in 1979, in which teams from 38 populations in 21 countries studied heart disease, stroke and risk factors from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the largest such collaboration ever undertaken.

MONICA was important in measuring levels and trends over time in these diseases and their risk factors in different populations, in precipitating and monitoring prevention policies in different countries, and in demonstrating the importance of the new acute and long-term treatments that were increasingly introduced.

All information gathered under the MONICA project has now been brought together in one full colour publication, designed to appeal to both professional and lay audiences. It also includes all the MONICA documents, methods and results in two CD-ROMs. Published by WHO, the monograph has been supported by the European Commission, by medical charities, and by industry.


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