A scientific review of gender gaps in cardiovascular research supports what many of us already suspected—there’s a ‘stunning’ lack of research into women’s heart health, which is having a devastating effect on the lives of women.

Heart disease and stroke are the #1 cause of premature death for women but two-thirds of clinical research is based on men, according to Heart & Stroke.

Published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the comprehensive review of existing heart research found the lack of research into cardiovascular disease in women puts women at risk.

In turn, the more than 30 authors of the paper—“State of the Science in Women’s Cardiovascular Disease: A Canadian Perspective on the Influence of Sex and Gender”—found that women are often misdiagnosed, under-diagnosed and under-treated.

The review, released by Heart & Stroke and the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance, concludes that cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death among women in Canada and this can, in part, be attributed to the lack of women-focused research.

This emphasizes a vast opportunity for exciting and timely research that will save the lives of women. Indeed, the review is already changing the way women’s cardiovascular health is studied and treated in Canada.

The review highlights the importance of bringing together researchers and other experts to focus on women’s health.  Through exciting work funded by The Heart & Stroke Women’s Research Initiative, 27 scientists are working on research focusing specifically on women’s health.

Already, we’re learning about the critical differences between men’s and women’s hearts and brains.

  • Women’s hearts and arteries are smaller, and plaque builds in different ways.
  • Women may show different symptoms of heart attack.
  • Women may experience different symptoms with a TIA (mini-stroke).
  • Women are more likely to experience a second heart attack.

Overall, however, women are far less aware of their risk factors. This makes it more challenging for women to advocate for their heart health. As a result, 1/3 more women die of stroke than men in Canada and heart attacks are more deadly for women.

Ensuring that women and their healthcare providers understand how disease manifests differently in women is crucial. Part of this is ensuring all stakeholders have access to resources and patient counselling tools to not only identify risk factors and symptoms of heart and stroke disease specific to women, but also support women to take ownership of their disease management and play an active role in their care.

At CONNECT, our goal is to eliminate such information gaps and help facilitate a stronger collaboration between industry professionals, healthcare providers and patients, for improved disease management, optimal treatment and – ultimately – a better patient journey. We’d love to get to know you and tell you more about our capabilities. Let’s connect.