Page 2880 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 11 October 2022

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Although heart disease can occur at any age, the risk increases significantly at around the time that women experience menopause. I urge Australian women to invest in their heart, and overall health, by embracing an active lifestyle and a low-fat diet, with fresh fruit and veggies, and to maintain a healthy body weight.

The Canberra Liberals will support this motion to raise awareness of the important health issue of women and heart disease.

MR DAVIS (Brindabella) (4.36): I would like to thank Dr Paterson for drawing the Assembly’s attention to the disproportionate impact of cardiovascular disease on women and people of other marginalised genders and sexualities. I will respond to this motion on behalf of the ACT Greens, as our spokesperson for health and LGBTIQA+ peoples respectively. We are happy to support this motion unamended.

This motion speaks primarily to the experiences of women, not only within our healthcare services but also the accumulated embodied impacts of gender discrimination over the course of a lifetime. The negative health burden of social determinants is greater for women, as they are more likely to earn less than men, to be in unpaid caring roles, to be socially isolated or victims of past trauma. A gender lens is essential to respond to the different needs of women and men and to help ensure that social determinants strengthen, rather than undermine, community health and wellbeing.

Cardiovascular disease is something that touches most of us at some stage. After cancer, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death. 1.2 million Australians have cardiovascular disease, with rates of reported disease slightly higher in men than in women. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare:

Although it affects both men and women, cardiovascular disease is often thought of as a men’s health issue. It is true that more men than women have the disease, and men typically present with the condition at younger ages and with greater severity. After accounting for differences in age structure, men also are hospitalised and die from cardiovascular disease at greater rates than women. However, this picture should not overshadow the substantial, and under-recognised, impact that cardiovascular disease has on women.

According to a 2020 study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, cardiovascular disease is the second leading cause of death in women, the first being dementia. Although CVD is not the leading cause of death, of the Australians who die from heart disease, more are women than men. While reported rates of cardiovascular disease are higher in men than women, we know that more women die from heart disease than men. This suggests, firstly, that women tend to go undiagnosed with cardiovascular disease and, secondly, relatedly, that they are more likely to not receive treatment and prevention for heart disease.

This motion seeks to draw attention to this problematic dynamic by improving the data collection on cardiovascular disease in women and developing targeted communications for women to increase awareness of the symptoms of heart disease and how to prevent its onset.

Unfortunately, comparative health outcomes tend to track poorly among marginalised groups and are exacerbated by multiple intersections. For example, we know that

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