heart health

Happy Heart-healthy Day promotes eating more fish

At Robson square today, dozens of women, many wearing red, shared key messages on women’s heart health as part of a national campaign dubbed Wear Red Canada Day.

Samantha McLeod

Heart disease is the number one killer of women worldwide affecting women of all ages.

This means 1 in 3 women will die as a result of heart disease or stroke.

At Robson square today, dozens of women, many wearing red, shared key messages on women’s heart health as part of a national campaign dubbed Wear Red Canada Day.

The campaign is to raise awareness about women’s heart health.

Heart attacks are unrecognized in women 54 per cent of the time, according to the campaign. That’s because the signs and symptoms in women can be very different than how they present in men. Women are also more likely to be diagnosed by a female physician.

Among the speakers at the Vancouver event were cardiologists, Dr. Tara Sedlak and Dr. Annie Chou.

Dr. Annie Chou (left) and Dr. Tara Sedlak (right) were presented with specially designed hand crafted chocolates, created by Vancouver-based patissier, Thomas Haas.

Below is a shorter version of a question and answer session with Dr. Annie Chou, General Cardiology, ST. PAUL’S HOSPITAL.

What was your main goal for this event?

“We need recognition, we need to empower women to understand that it is not just about anxiety, it is not just nothing, it could be something and they must learn to push so that they can be heard.

It is also for health care professionals to realize that we need to empower these women to get heard as well as to treat them appropriately and not to write them off to something that is not the right diagnosis. I believe now is a good time to allow change to happen.”

Traditionally there has been a disconnect between cardiologists and female patients. You, Dr. Chou, have seen that worrisome neglect and you are taking steps to change that. What specifically are you doing in terms of bringing about that change?

“Anything we can learn in terms of research and in terms of clinical experience, all of that will help us put more results together, have a bigger population of patients that we can go back to and say, see these women have those symptoms so maybe that’s a common symptom in women. We want to get more research done, more acquainted with how women present, how women are different, and how we can help these women.

We look at the recent past, only male researchers, only male patients, very few female cardiologists and I think in this day and age we should not have only 15 percent female cardiologists, that number should be much higher.”

Do you find that the 15 percent female cardiologists today are representative of all cultures?

“Culture is huge, culture is very, very huge. In terms of how a lot of Asian patients, and a lot of East Indian patients will internalize their symptoms. In terms of how all other cultures address their symptoms, we have to recognize that as well. Education for all cultures is important. As an Asian Canadian, I can say the Asian knowledge of heart disease is lower than the general population, so yes, we have to bring the knowledge to all cultures to help all women really understand what heart disease really is, what the symptoms are, and what the risk factors are”.

At what age should a woman start thinking about heart-health?

I think at any age, even as a child one should be eating healthy and exercising regularly. Adults should drink alcohol in moderation, eat healthy foods, include fish in their diets, and exercise regularly too, these are all important for a healthy heart.

Should we be adding more seafood to our diets?

“Seafood? Yes. Fish? Yes, fish, fish, fish. Pink fish, white fish, oily fish, all fish, all good for the heart!”

Something I have noticed in my research is there seems to be a lack of seafood in most seniors’ homes, why is that, and how do you feel about the lack of seafood in their diets?

“Not good. Absolutely fish is important to seniors’ diets, 100 percent important.

Remember seniors are the highest risks population and I think it is unfortunate that fish is so expensive and I really think that has to change.”

What last bit of advice would you impart to our female readers?

“Empower each other, learn more about your health, share that knowledge and most of all, seek help for yourself, care more for yourself, love yourself!”

For more information, about how you can care for your heart go to Wear Red Canada

To contact Dr. Annie Chou visit here.


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