Over the past 10 years, there has been a significant drop in the number of women coming to Rambam's Department of Emergency Medicine for serious heart attacks, according to data collected in the hospital and published during the National Heart Disease Awareness Campaign, which was observed last week throughout Israel.
The campaign, led by the Hadassah Center for Women's Heart Health, called for raising awareness of women's health and using all existing lifesaving measures. In collaboration with several Israeli medical centers including Rambam Health Care Campus, a wide range of informational activities were held using the slogan "Pay attention to your heart".
According to data from the Rambam Women’s Heart Clinic, from 2017–2019, there was a 50% decrease in the number of women who came to Rambam with severe heart attacks and required hospitalization in a cardiac intensive care unit, as compared to the 2009–2011 data. However, although the number of women with severe heart attacks decreased overall, no change was observed among women aged 55 and younger. The percentage of young women in this age bracket who have been hospitalized in intensive care following a severe heart attack is more or less the same – approximately 12% a decade ago and around 13% in recent years.
"In general, older women have more of the known risk factors for heart attacks such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, smoking, diabetes, obesity, and lack of exercise," explains Dr. Miry Blich, head of the Inherited Arrhythmia and Women’s Heart clinics, and a senior cardiologist in the Department of Cardiology and the Electrophysiology Unit. "In recent years, thanks to increased awareness of and better treatment for these risk factors, it is possible to see the decline in heart attacks in women. At the same time, young women often do not have any of these known risk factors or perhaps have only a single risk factor. This raises the possibility that the heart attack mechanism in young women is more complex and not entirely clear, and may be related to other factors such as inflammation, clotting and more. Our findings certainly underscore the importance of researching the exact process of heart attacks in young women. A better understanding will point to preventive measures that can be taken to lower the percentage severe heart attacks in young women as well."
Another trend that emerged from clinical data is that older women in the Arab sector have higher percentages of diabetes and obesity, together with less regular physical activity, when compared to women in the Jewish sector. "It is very important to raise awareness among this population," says Dr. Blich, adding that "the risk of heart attacks can be significantly reduced by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including weight loss, proper dieting, regular exercise, and not smoking, as well as balancing and minimizing the risk of diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension. These actions plus a better understanding of the mechanism responsible for heart attacks in young women can significantly reduce unnecessary morbidity and death in women."