New partnership arrow aimed at women’s hearts
HEART disease is often seen as a men's health issue, but it shouldn't be forgotten that every day women die of heart disease; in fact, 22 every day in Australia.
The concern around how many of those women took the time to get their heart health tested is being tackled by a new partnership.
The Heart Foundation and HESTA have joined together to develop an awareness campaign which will encourage women to better understand the warning signs of a heart attack and to get regular heart health checks with their GP.
HESTA has more than 680,000 female members who work in the health and community services sector.
Heart Foundation National chief executive officer, Adjunct Professor John Kelly, said partnering with HESTA provides an opportunity to reach more women right around Australia. "HESTA can help us raise awareness with new audiences and in new ways.
"A significant number of HESTA members live and work in rural and regional areas, so we want to support them to improve their heart health and wellbeing, and encourage other women to do likewise."
Prof Kelly noted that only three in 10 women recognise heart disease as personally relevant. "This perception has had a significant impact on heart health outcomes for women," Prof Kelly said.
"Women often don't recognise the warning signs of a heart attack and are generally slower to seek help. Subsequent delays in their diagnosis and treatment lead to worse survival and recovery rates compared to men.
"We also know that women are more likely to look after their loved ones' health than their own. This is a belief we need to change, women can only look after others if they look after themselves first."
The partnership will also focus on reducing the impact of smoking and tobacco products on the health of Australians.
HESTA has a tobacco exclusion across its entire portfolio of investments and was one of the first Australian super funds to sign the Investor Statement on Tobacco, encouraging other investors to acknowledge this global issue.
Prof Kelly said that while smoking rates had fallen significantly over the last few decades, it still remains a leading risk to the health of many Australians, with smoking contributing to the loss of 15,000 lives each year.
"While we know that smoking increases the risk of coronary heart disease for both genders, a number of studies have shown that women who smoke have an increased risk of coronary heart disease compared to men," Prof Kelly said.
"The reasons for the increased risk are not fully known but hormones, the use of the contraceptive pill and inadequate physical activity leave women who do smoke more vulnerable to heart, lung and blood vessel disease. Australia has done a good job in driving smoking rates down - but there is room to do better."