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Heart disease the most common cause of death for Australian women: report

Xinhua, October 12, 2016 Adjust font size:

Heart disease, not cancer, is the No. 1 killer of Australian women, a study has found.

The study, undertaken by the Mary McKillop Institute for Health at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Melbourne, was the first to measure the impact of heart disease by considering associated diseases such as diabetes and kidney failure in addition to heart attacks and stroke.

With kidney failure and diabetes included, the Cardiovascular Risk and Diseases in Australian Women report found that heart disease contributed to more than 31,000 deaths among Australian women every year.

In comparison, 12,000 women were killed in Australia last year by common forms of cancer, including breast cancer.

Maja-Lisa Lochan, one of the report's head researchers, said that heart disease contributed to 3,000 incidents where women died before reaching a hospital, a trend she said was due to women not recognizing the symptoms of a heart attack.

"They often think it's asthma, tiredness, influenza and ... often related to diseases other than heart disease," Lochan told the ABC on Tuesday.

"They avoid seeking treatment ... more often than men."

Lochan said that a large number of the deaths were preventable if the causative factors were tackled.

"Sixty per cent of the causes of heart disease in women and related issues are preventable," Lochan said on Tuesday. "The main causes are high cholesterol, type two diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking.

"It has to do with the Australian diet, which has a high content of sugar. All these risk factors are related to lifestyle and treatable conditions."

The report estimated the annual cost of cardiovascular disease-related hospital care for women was 2.2 billion U.S. dollars, a figure Lochan said could be reduced if the government invested more money in awareness campaigns and prevention programs.