Women and Heart Disease

Heart disease and stroke combined, is the leading cause of death among women in Singapore but many are still unaware of the dangers posed by this “silent killer”.

In the Singapore Heart Foundation’s Go Red For Women Heart Health Awareness Survey in 2006 and 2009, less than 10% of the respondents (8% in 2006 and 9% in 2009) were aware that heart disease and stroke is the No. 1 killer of women.

Other alarming findings of the 2006 & 2009 surveys were:

  • Only 12% of the respondents spoke about their risk of heart disease with their doctors (general practitioners) for the past 12 months (2006).
  • 27% of the respondents thought that there was nothing they could do to prevent a heart attack (2006).
  • Over a third (35%) felt they were at low risk for a heart attack for a woman their age. 20% did not know their risks. (2009)
  • About a third (32%) did not know women were more likely to die from heart disease after menopause than before. 20% believed this statement to be false (2009).
  • Close to half (42%) of women polled did not associate chest pains with heart attacks (2009).
  • Nearly half of the female respondents identified breast cancer and other cancers as the top cause of death among women in Singapore.

There were however, some positive trends in the 2013 survey. Some included:

  • Increased ownership of electronic blood pressure (BP) monitors, indicated greater awareness of BP being a significant risk factor and motivation to want to keep it under control, with over a third (37%) respondents owning a monitor at home.
  • More than three-fifths of respondents knew their good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol levels – an encouraging sign, as SHF often drives home the message for women to “know their numbers”.
  • The majority of respondents fell within the healthy weight range with an average BMI (Body Mass Index) at 22.8.
  • Most respondents (87%) understood that heart disease develops gradually over many years and can go undetected, but there was a split in the belief that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women.
  • High level of agreement (88%) that exercise is one way to prevent or reduce risk of heart disease, followed by reducing stress (68%), reducing cholesterol (66%), and quitting smoking (61%).
  • Over 65% of respondents exercised at least once a week.