A new study published by the American Heart Association this week indicates alarming sex-related differences in survival rates from heart surgery. According to this study, conducted by the Canadian Thoracic Aortic Collaborative, women are much more likely to suffer complications, even death, from aortic surgery, and the reasons why remain unknown.
In this study, scientists compared 1700 Canadian men and women who had undergone surgery to repair the effects from aortic disease. Despite both men and women having identical procedures to repair the aorta, the main blood vessel connecting the heart to the lower body, 40% more women were likely to suffer from complications after surgery, 90% more women were likely to suffer from a subsequent stroke and an alarming 80% more women were likely to die than men.
Researchers are now scrambling to determine why these disturbing gender differences are occurring. Experts speculate that women likely have more delicate heart and blood vessel tissue than men and therefore require more specified surgery that is tailored to their biological requirements. Researchers are also wondering whether women are not diagnosed early enough, in comparison to men.
Doctors are urging women to advocate for their own heart health. February is designated as Heart Health Month and what better time to take a look at your own health practices, family history and lifestyle choices to determine what more you can do to take better care of your heart.
Aortic disease has no symptoms, which is the frightening reality. Some symptoms of a possible aortic tear can include chest or back pain, loss of voice, problems breathing or swallowing, nausea or vomiting, low blood pressure and/or rapid heart rate. If you suspect you may be experiencing an issue with your heart, see your family doctor immediately and push for a thorough check-up.
While you cannot control your family health history, your gender, ethnicity or age, you certainly can control your lifestyle choices that may affect your heart health, such as smoking, being overweight, physical inactivity, poor dietary choices, excessive drug and alcohol consumption, and the way you handle stress. Small steps towards a healthier lifestyle can make a big difference in the health of your heart. Heart attack and stroke kill many more women than breast cancer. Heart disease is a very serious health issue. Evaluate your heart health today.