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Study finds women are less likely to have heart checked

New research shows men are more likely than women to have their heart health checked.

By Amy Wallace
Study finds women are less likely to have heart checked
A study from the University of Syndey and the George Institute for Global Health has found that women are much less likely to have their heart health checked than men. Photo by ronstik/Shutterstock

March 1 (UPI) -- Researchers from the George Institute for Global Health and the University of Sydney in Australia have found a gender divide in screening for cardiovascular disease, with women much less likely to be screened for heart disease.

Roughly 45,000 people die each year from heart disease in Australia, making it the country's top cause of death, and more women dying of heart disease each year than men, according to the study. Risk factors for cardiovascular disease include elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking.

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The study of more than 53,000 people at 60 sites in Australia found men were significantly more likely to be screened for heart disease risk factors, while women were screened 12 percent less than men.

Women who smoke have a 25 percent greater risk of developing heart disease than male smokers.

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Researchers also found that younger women at high risk of cardiovascular disease were 37 percent less likely to be treated with preventative medications than men.

"Unfortunately there is still the perception that heart disease is a man's disease," Julie Redfern, an associate professor at The George Institute for Global Health, said in a press release. "This is not the case here in Australia, the U.K. or the U.S., and we fear that one of the reasons more women are dying from heart disease is because they are not being treated correctly, including not even being asked basic questions about their health."

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The study showed women ages 35 to 54 at high risk for heart disease were 37 percent less likely than younger men to have appropriate medications like blood pressure medications, statins and antiplatelets prescribed to them by doctors.

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Age seemed to play a factor; women ages 65 and older were 34 percent more likely than older men to have appropriate medication prescribed to them.

"It is simply unacceptable that more than half of young women in this study did not receive appropriate heart health medications," Karice Hyun, a Ph.D. student at the University of Sydney. "These medications can greatly reduce the likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke. If these findings are representative, many women could be missing out on life saving treatment right now -- just because of their age and gender."

The study was published in the journal Heart.

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