International physician survey reveals misperceptions about the toll of stroke on women

"While most people think of cardiovascular disease as a man's problem, the truth is that both sexes suffer just about equally, but for a variety of reasons cardiovascular conditions, such as stroke, are more often fatal in women than in men," said Janet Vote, chief executive officer of the World Heart Federation.

The GRASP (Global Reality of Attitudes on Stroke Prevention and Hypertension) survey found that six in ten physicians believe that men are more likely than women to die from stroke. In fact, a higher proportion of deaths in women, 11% (2.9 million annually), are a result of stroke as compared to the proportion of deaths from stroke in men, 8% (2.5 million annually).(1) Not only do more women than men die from stroke, but if women survive a stroke, they are more likely to be severely disabled than men.(2)

"Cardiovascular disease is the largest single cause of death among women, accounting for a third of all deaths," said Ms Vote. "We want women, physicians and the public to be aware of the truths about heart disease and stroke and the impact on both women and men. The understanding about cardiovascular disease in women needs to be raised to the same level it is for cardiovascular disease in men. We also want World Heart Day to serve as a catalyst to encourage women around the world to be proactive in preventing heart disease and stroke. Women must have discussions with their physicians about their risk factors such as hypertension and, if necessary, seek the best available treatments and/or make the appropriate lifestyle changes." Hypertension and stroke are strongly linked.

Although there are a number of risk factors for stroke, including smoking, diabetes, excess weight and physical inactivity, hypertension is the No. 1 risk factor and is present in the vast majority of stroke sufferers. A common public perception is that the main risk associated with hypertension is heart attack, while in fact hypertension is a major

Contact: Helen Limbrick
Shire Hall Communications

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