Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New survey reveals significant gender gap in post-heart attack health care

Canadian men put their hearts into prevention - yet both sexes fall short when it comes to awareness of secondary heart health risks

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, March 13, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - When it comes to matters of the heart, it's no secret that men and women can be quite different. In fact, a new survey conducted by Vision Critical on behalf of AstraZeneca Canada Inc. reveals that the gender gap after a heart attack may be wider than we think, with men taking better care of themselves after a heart attack than women.

According to the survey, there was a significant difference in the number of men who made changes to their lifestyle post-heart attack compared to women. In fact, men surpass women by at least 10 per cent when it comes to visiting their doctor, getting their cholesterol/blood pressure tested and taking prescription medication for their heart.

"These survey results are especially surprising, as they contradict the popular belief that women are more proactive when it comes to their health and well-being," says Dr. David Fitchett, an interventional cardiologist at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. "It's important to note, however, that both sexes could use improvement. A heart attack can be very damaging to the heart itself, so making appropriate changes to diet, lifestyle and medication after an event is crucial to maintaining heart health."

While men seem more proactive in taking care of themselves post-heart attack, the risk of a repeat event for both men and women is high. Although treatment advances have greatly increased chances of survival, approximately 20 per cent of patients hospitalized for heart attacks are re-admitted within six months, and 15 per cent will die within one year. Women in particular are twice as likely as men to die within the first few weeks after suffering a heart attack.

Despite these startling statistics, the survey revealed that 69 per cent of sufferers feel they face the same or less risk than others their age who have not had a heart attack. In reality, approximately one-in-three heart attacks every year are recurrent events, creating a significant burden on patients and the Canadian health care system.

The costs of cardiovascular disease in Canada are extremely high, with more than $20.9 billion spent every year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages and decreased productivity.

A Heartfelt Approach to Prevention

The survey also found that while 89 per cent of Canadians overall are taking medication as a result of their heart attack, they don't consider it to be as important as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly or not smoking. Despite this, 15 per cent of men and 32 per cent of women still smoke post-heart attack.

Men also lead the way with treatment compliance, with 93 per cent saying they take a prescription medication for their heart, compared with only 83 per cent of women.

"Newer treatment options are an important part of an overall prevention plan to help Canadians who are at risk of suffering a second heart attack - a plan that also includes lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, keeping physically active and avoiding smoking and alcohol," says Dr. Fitchett. "It's important for both men and women to understand the increased risks after suffering a heart attack, incorporate prevention measures and make informed decisions to better protect their health and prevent a second heart attack."

About Astrazeneca Canada

AstraZeneca is committed to the research, development and manufacturing of valuable prescription medicines. We have an extensive product portfolio spanning six therapeutic areas: gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, infection, neuroscience, oncology and respiratory. AstraZeneca's Canadian headquarters are located in Mississauga, Ontario, and a state-of-the-art drug discovery centre is based in Montreal, Quebec. For more information, please visit the company's website at

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