Many women unaware of own cholesterol

Many Irish women over the age of 45 are unaware of their cholesterol number, despite high cholesterol being a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is responsible for 50% of all female deaths in this country.

According to a new survey of over 500 adults, which was carried out in February and March of this year, 50% of women aged 45 and older are unaware of their cholesterol number.

While half of the participants said they have their cholesterol checked every year, women, and those aged between 45 and 54, were the least likely to have undergone testing.

The survey also revealed that many people rely on reminders and prompts from healthcare professionals, such as GPs, before having their cholesterol checked. Furthermore, one in four women admitted that they are not taking any steps in an effort to maintain a healthy cholesterol level, or do not know what steps to take.

"What is especially concerning about the findings is that women in the menopausal years (aged 45-54) are the least likely to have their cholesterol checked and yet this is the time when their risk of heart attack and stroke is significantly increased. Menopause is strongly associated with an increase in total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and a decline in HDL (good) cholesterol levels," noted Irene Gibson of the heart and stroke charity, Croí.

She pointed out that many people still perceive CVD as a ‘man's disease', however it is responsible for one in two deaths among women in Ireland.

"While cardiovascular risk is deferred by 10 years in women versus men, it is not avoided. It still remains the number one cause of death among women in Ireland. The findings of this study highlight the important need to educate women on their risk of CVD and to empower them to take action.

"The good news is that up to 90% of heart disease and stroke is preventable through lifestyle change and risk factor modification," Ms Gibson said.

The survey also noted that men and women tend to talk to different people about health issues. Men talk to their families and GPs more, while women are more likely to talk to their friends. However overall, almost one in three people said that they had experienced a health concern that they had not told a loved one about.

The survey was carried out by Behaviours & Attitudes on behalf of Flora pro.activ.

For more information on Croí, click here

For more information on heart health, see our Heart Disease Clinic here

 

[Posted: Mon 18/05/2015]


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