Women need to take urgent action to reduce their risk of heart disease, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday, as it revealed study results to show that heart disease is a bigger killer of women than cancer.
The MONICA Monograph and Multimedia Sourcebook, the largest-ever worldwide collaboration to study heart disease, shows that of the 16.5 million heart disease deaths annually, 8.6 million are of women, while heart attacks and strokes are responsible for twice as many deaths in women as all cancers combined.
"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 for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health, speaking on World Heart Day yesterday.
"We must strive to make women aware that to keep their hearts healthy, they need to eat smart, kick smoking and move for health."
Just eating one or two servings of fruit or vegetables daily has been found to reduce the risk of heart attack, according to recent research, while those that eat more can cut the risk of coronary events by as much as 70 per cent, studies suggest. Fish oils have also been associated with strong protective effects on heart health. Consumption of oily fish once a week has been shown to help prevent heart attacks and progression of heart disease.
The MONICA (MONItoring CArdiovascular disease) Monograph, conceived in 1979, saw teams from 38 populations in 21 countries study heart disease, stroke and risk factors from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. The study measured levels and trends in these diseases and their risk factors in different populations, and monitored prevention policies in different countries.