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HEALTH REPORT - Cardiovascular Disease / Women - 2003-10-07

Broadcast: October 8, 2003

This is the VOA Special English Health Report.

The World Health Organization says that each year almost seventeen-million people die of heart disease and stroke. More than eight-million of them are women. In fact, heart attacks and strokes cause two times as many deaths in women as all kinds of cancer combined.

September twenty-eighth was World Heart Day. The W-H-O used the event to release a report on a major worldwide study. The project was called Monitoring Cardiovascular Disease, or MONICA. The study took place from the middle of the nineteen-eighties to the middle of the nineties. Teams in twenty-one countries measured levels of heart disease, stroke and the risk factors that can lead to them in different populations. The W-H-O says the information is important for developing prevention policies and for demonstrating the value of new treatments.

The World Heart Day observance this year centered on women. A non-governmental organization in Geneva, the World Heart Federation, says heart disease is the most serious health threat to women. The federation represents more than one-hundred heart organizations in ninety-seven countries.

It says many people believe that mainly men have heart attacks and strokes. Executive Director Janet Voute (pronounced voot) says this is only one of the false ideas people have. Another is that heart attacks and strokes are diseases of rich countries. Mizz Voute says eighty percent of heart attack and stroke deaths are in low and middle income countries.

A third idea is that it is simply an old person’s disease. The director says this too is false. But she says people are increasingly at risk of heart disease when they are older because of how they lived when they were young. The federation says the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and high body weight.

The group says eighteen times more women die from heart disease and strokes than from breast cancer. It says more than half of female deaths and disability from heart disease and stroke could be cut.

It says women would need to do things like quit smoking, lose weight and get thirty minutes of exercise a day. The federation says it is also important to avoid breathing other people's tobacco smoke.

This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Nancy Steinbach.