Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a leading cause of death in Qatar and the number one cause of death globally, according to Hamad Medical Corporation.
While both men and women may share many of the same symptoms of a heart attack, a woman's experience can be very different from a man's and women are more often misdiagnosed.
In addition to chest, jaw, and back discomfort, women may also experience anxiety, sleep disturbances, stress, fatigue, and body aches. They may also describe the sensation felt during a heart attack as heaviness or pressure, compared to men who often complain of chest pain.
Research attributes these differences to a number of factors, including age, as young women may not be aware that they have a heart condition. Physiological differences are also a factor, with women being less likely than men to seek help quickly.
Dr Nidal Ahmad Asaad, chairman of cardiology at HMC’s Heart Hospital, said: “Each year, heart disease kills more women than men. Heart attacks are also thought to be more deadly in women because their hearts are affected by pregnancy, menopause, and hormonal changes, with a large percentage of young women who have premature acute heart attacks having a history of pregnancy disorders, such as gestational diabetes or hypertension.”
HMC recently concluded the second conference in Cardiac Clinical Imaging.
“Women with known or suspected heart disease, of course, require excellent medical care, but they also require a more holistic approach that includes psychological support, psychosocial support, and education to make the lifestyle changes that will enhance their heart health,” Dr Asaad noted.
“The good news is that increased awareness can help control the key risk factors and prevent heart disease. By encouraging just a few simple daily lifestyle changes, such as eating and drinking more healthily, getting more exercise, and stopping smoking, we can help reverse this trend,” Dr Asaad added.
Risk factors for heart disease common to both men and women include high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity. Risk factors specific to women include gestational diabetes, pre-term delivery, hypertension in pregnancy, and breast cancer treatments. Having an autoimmune disorder also increases one’s risk of heart disease.
As part of its continuing efforts to provide excellent cardiac care in Qatar, HMC recently organised the Second Conference in Cardiac Clinical Imaging under the theme ‘Defining the future vision of cardiac imaging.’ The conference was aimed at raising awareness of, and stimulating interest in, cardiac imaging as a profession and highlighting the important role it plays in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of heart conditions.
Dr Maryam al-Kuwari, senior consultant, Cardiac Imaging and Chief Radiologist at HMC, said, “The conference primarily focused on the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to care across sub-specialties such as clinical imaging, cardiology, nuclear cardiology, and echocardiography. Moreover, the newest techniques in cardiac imaging diagnosis and management and the latest research and developments in cardiac imaging and related fields were also discussed.”