“Women need to reduce their stress in order to prevent heart attacks.”
Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum
The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s new report aims at shedding light to the gender inequities in the Canadian health care system. Canadian women are ‘unnecessarily suffering and dying from heart disease’.
The report ‘Ms. Understood’ explains that when compared with men, women are not as well researched, diagnosed, treated and supported. “What’s really troubling to a lot of us is in the younger women—women less than 60—we are actually seeing the rates of heart disease and death going up.”
– Dr. Paula Harvey, Cardiology Division Head at Women’s College Hospital 1
Education is the first step in women’s heart health.
We must take steps to recognize symptoms most commonly seen in women :
Milder symptoms without chest pain
• Sudden onset of weakness, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, indigestion, tiredness, aches
• Discomfort in the back chest, arm, neck or jaw
Chest pain and heart attack:
• Women less likely to experience chest pain, but the majority still do
• Younger women less likely to experience chest pain
• Angina is more likely the initial sign of coronary artery disease in women (vs heart attack in men)
“I think if you ask the average woman on the street what her biggest health concern is, it’s probably dying of breast cancer–which is not to minimize that that isn’t important. But women are actually five times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease. It’s a major killer of women.”
Dr. Karin Humphries, Scientific Director of the B.C. Centre for Improved Cardiovascular Health
The Importance of Prevention for Heart Disease:
The American Heart Association’s preferred approach to prevention is to lessen the risk factors. Research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health found that Transcendental Meditation practice reduces heart disease and stroke by 48%—and no other meditation technique has been found to produce such an effect.
According to a 2013 American Heart Association statement (4), Transcendental Meditation is the only meditation practice shown to reduce high blood pressure and may be considered in clinical practice for the prevention and treatment of hypertension. This reduction may be associated with substantially reduced rates of death, heart attack and stroke. This form of meditation has proven itself to be strongly associated with cardiovascular health.
TM’s Impact on Heart Health
For reducing stress, Dr. Steinbaum recommends the Transcendental Meditation technique.
“I tell my patients that we have to treat this issue of overwhelming stress in their lives, and this (Transcendental Meditation) is an evidence-based technique that has been shown to reduce blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes by 48 percent. The American Heart Association recommends it as the most effective stress management tool for reducing hypertension.
“At first, my recommendation was based on TM’s research, and then I learned it myself, and thought, ‘Oh this is huge! This is a really, really big deal, something that goes far beyond the medical benefits. One of my favourite things to say is that I never thought I could sit still that long, and now I look forward to it. I also say, ‘Trust me on this one, this is going to work’.”