Women and heart disease: How much do you know?
Women are often gatekeepers of their family members' health and wellbeing. But how much do they know about their own health? Between Jan and Mar 2020, the Singapore Heart Foundation conducted the Go Red for Women survey with 1,002 female respondents aged 21 to 64 to find out how much they know about heart health. Here are the highlights.
  • Only 9% are aware that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death for women in Singapore. (vs 10% in 2016)

    The general population may be unaware that conditions like stroke and ischemic heart disease constitute cardiovascular disease. Also, as cancer diagnoses are more commonly heard of, many think it is the leading health issue and cause of death among women. But in fact, CVD kills six times as many women every year and can lead to debilitating conditions such as heart failure.

  • Only 8% had a conversation on CVD-related topics with their doctor in the past 12 months.

    Prevention against CVD should start as early as possible, even though the risk of such disease in women increases after menopause. Early adoption of a healthy diet and exercise, early risk assessment and early detection of risk factors are important. Women aged 18 and above should undergo screening for cardiovascular disease risk factors such as diabetes and hypertension. Depending on the results, the doctor may suggest a regular cardiovascular screening or further evaluation for heart disease.

    Please don't be shy to find out more from your doctor and reduce your risk before it is too late.

  • 17% are hypertension patients who own blood pressure (BP) monitor. (vs 12% in 2016)

    Although women own BP monitors because of their hypertension condition, it is encouraging to know that more women are active in monitoring their BP readings and executing preventative care. As hypertension is one of the major risk factors for heart disease, it is important to encourage every household to own a BP monitor. It will allow more Singaporeans to understand their blood pressure and act early.

  • 73% can identify chest pain, and 59% can identify shortness of breath as common warning signs of a heart attack.

    While it is encouraging to learn that a higher percentage of women can now identify the common warning signs of a heart attack compared to 2016, only 3 out of 10 are aware that women's heart attack symptoms are quite different from men.

    A heart attack is not always about chest pain, as depicted in the dramas. Symptoms of a heart attack in women are usually harder to identify as they are mostly asymptomatic. Hence, women need to learn about their unique warning signs to ensure they take timely interventions.

  • Overweight, obesity and physical inactivity are more prevalent among those aged 50 to 64.

    While older women aged 50 to 64 form the largest group of overweight/obese females, they have also been found to be the least physically-active group. However, 8 out of 10 responders also stated that they feel more motivated when exercising with their family or friends. So get out there with your friends, doing at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise a week can lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol to a healthy level.

  • 54% of females aged 21 to 34 believe they are not at risk of heart disease.

    Cardiovascular disease (CVD) can happen to anyone in any age group. Although 21 to 34 years old might be a young age, risk factors like stress, lack of exercise, smoking, obesity and even family history can still lead people in this age group to CVD. It is important to remove the modifiable risk factors from young and reduce any risk of CVD.