Jul 30, 2019
February marks the month designated by the American Heart
Association as its "Go Red for Women" campaign to raise awareness
of the real risk of heart disease in women. Too often, men are seen
as the victims of heart attacks and people forget that women can
suffer from heart disease as well. In fact, women die more from
heart disease than men, right?
Well, if you followed the campaign from the AHA, that is the
impression you would get, but that only paints part of the picture.
My guest today, Dr. Anish Koka of the Accad & Koka Report
, pointed out
in an article recently that this propaganda may be misleading. It
is true that more women die from heart disease than men but their
deaths occur much later in life. In fact, they clearly outpace the
death of men in the over 85 year old age bracket but only because
there are so many more women left than men. When adjusted for the
absolute numbers of men and women alive in their 80s, men still
have a higher risk of death from heart disease than women.
The real question about all these conflated numbers and public
service announcements is whether any of it really matters. Do
clinicians actually listen? Do clinicians hear the ads and become
more aware of the problem of heart disease? Well, according to Dr.
Koka, residents, fellows, and medical students are influenced by
these campaigns as well and adjust their treatment plans.
It is a dangerous world when we throw out our real life
experiences to match data which may or may not be telling an
accurate story. In the case of "Go Red for Women" it is important
that clinicians and the general public understand where the real
truth lies: women have lots of heart disease but not as early or as
frequently as men. That doesn't mean we should ignore it or forget
it but just that we need to take the incidence into our calculation
about what treatment and testing options might be best for the
Dr. Koka is a cardiologist and the
cohost of the Accad & Koka Report.