Page 2881 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 11 October 2022
Indigenous women are up to twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease and to die from coronary heart disease or stroke. Discrimination within health settings, as well as the embodied impacts of violence and marginalisation over the course of a lifetime, will have a significant impact on health outcomes.
Culture, life experience and access to resources make people do health differently. Health and wellbeing are significantly impacted by social determinants like education, employment, income, access to health services, safe and affordable housing, and experience with domestic, family and sexual violence.
One of the biggest problems we have with women’s cardiovascular health is that the symptoms when women have heart attacks are different from the symptoms that men have. Gender bias in medical research persists to this day, with women continuing to be under-represented in clinical trials. There is a serious lack of gender critical data collection and analysis across our public health system, too. When women receive treatment based on the results of studies of men, unanticipated adverse events can occur because of gender-specific differences.
On that note, I again thank Dr Paterson for her motion, and I look forward to monitoring and hearing more from the government about their work on this issue and, in particular, the policy outcomes related to the data collection that will ensue as a result of this motion.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Families and Community Services and Minister for Health) (4.40): I am pleased today to rise in support of Dr Paterson’s motion and thank her for bringing this issue to the Assembly for debate. It is an important issue. Cardiovascular diseases, as Dr Paterson notes, are a leading cause of death for women and men. As Dr Paterson points out, less than 60 per cent of women are aware that heart conditions are a leading cause of death in women.
Cardiovascular diseases are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels that include four major areas: coronary heart disease, which is manifested by cardiac events such as heart attack; cerebrovascular disease, which can be manifested by stroke; peripheral artery disease; and atherosclerosis, or blockages in other blood vessels. All of these are significant illnesses that can have a big impact on someone’s life. Heart attacks and strokes are usually acute events and mainly caused by a blockage that prevents blood from flowing to the heart or brain. Key risk factors are an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol.
Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that two-thirds of the burden of disease in Australia is due to chronic health conditions, including cardiovascular diseases. This comes at great personal cost to individuals and their families, and it also has a significant cost to the health system. In 2018-19 it was estimated that there were almost 590,800 hospitalisations due to cardiovascular diseases across Australia.
While the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in the ACT is similar to national figures, they do not occur, as others have indicated, equally across all population groups in our community. Evidence shows that chronic diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases, occur more frequently among socio-economically