Philippine Heart Association: It’s time to break the bias in gender heart health care

Philippine Heart Association: It’s time to break the bias in gender heart health care

MANILA—In the recent observance of International Women’s Day (IWD), the Philippine Heart Association Council on Women’s Cardiovascular Disease (PHA CWCH)  joined women groups all over the world as they held an online Usapang Puso sa Puso (UPP) titled  Breaking the Bias: Babae, kakaiba ka nga ba? broadcasted via Zoom and PHA Facebook page live.

Global reports showed that CVD is the leading cause of death among women, accounting for 35 percent deaths per year worldwide.  According to the European Society of Cardiology, CVD accounts for two out of five deaths in women. CVD is the number one killer of Filipino women.

Work and social strain seem to pack a double punch, increasing women’s risk of developing coronary heart disease by 21 percent, according to the American Heart Association. Amid these  glaring statistics,  CVD among  women remains understudied, under recognized underdiagnosed and undertreated, with women under-represented in clinical trials. 

PHA-Philippine College of Cardiology President Dr. Gilbert Vilela said “so it is said that respect tastes better than attention. So this one we show respect to the women of our lives by discussing how to take care of them, cardiovascular disease (CVD), wise. So we have to talk how about how different a woman’s heart disease is from a man’s heart disease.”

He called for urgent action to improve the care of the growing number of women afflicted with and dying from heart and circulatory disease.   

Vilela also said that other sex specific risk factors  are premature menopause, gestational diabetes, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, pre-term delivery, systemic inflammatory, and auto immune disorder  found only  in women which is on top of  established hypertension, dyslipidemia and diabetes.”

Stressors like the negative aspects of social interactions or relationships, also increased women’s risk of developing heart disease.

The PHA  president added that “there are some unrecognized risk factors for women.  They are  psychosocial like abuse, and  intimate partner violence, socio-economic  deprivation, poor health literary,  and environmental risk factors and  a lot of things that  we should be discussing. We start with this UPP. I am sure this is going to create a lot noise in behalf of the women of our lives.  I am saying women of our lives because definitely a  man’s life will not be  complete without a woman.”

The forum served as the perfect platform to celebrate women; to support the IWD campaign and to reiterate the PHA CWCH’s own campaign to break the bias that makes women’s heart health of less priority than men.  It was hosted by Dr. Delta Canela and Dr. Joanna Manalo, both active members of the PHA CWCH.

Joining them were celebrity doctor Vicki Belo and character actress Shamaine Buencamino who shared their experiences in breaking the gender bias in their respective fields. They also gave pieces of advice to fellow women on how to empower themselves by giving priority on their health and well-being.

Everybody knows that the family of Shamaine went through a tragic phase in their family with the passing of her daughter Julia.  The actress said that seeking professional help was a great support for them to understand what happened to Julia.

“Humingi ako ng tulong, itong pinagdaanan namin, hindi ko ito kinaya mag-isa. Humingi ako ng tulong sa aming spiritual director.

“Nag-retreat ako, humingi ako ng tulong sa Diyos. Pumunta ako sa grief therapist at sa psychologist. Dinala ko ang pamilya ko for grief therapy kasi hindi madali yung trauma ng suicide.”

Shamaine also gave some pieces of advice to those who are going through the same trial.  “A lot of time kasi, iniisip natin na, ‘Kakayanin ko na ito’ or ‘I just need to give myself time to breathe.’ “Sometimes that’s okay, but sometimes we also have to know how to breathe in a healthy way.

“May ganun kasing konsepto, and the best people to help us are the professionals. Nandiyan ang ating mga doktor, psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist who can help us,” the good actress stated.  

One of the guests was Dra. Vicki Belo in the Usapang Puso Sa Puso,  and she shared that at the age of 65, she is enjoying the role of a mom to her seven year-old daughter Scarlet Snow while at the same time as a founder, CEO, medical director of Belo Medical Group. The dermatologist of the stars is happy to be playing both roles.

Dra. Vicki is proud about the popularity of her daughter Scarlet who has five million followers on Instagram. However, she admits that the kid is just like the rest of other children her age who is naughty and too persistent at times. But instead of getting mad at her, she enjoys her naughtiness and when this happens, Dra. Vicki admits that she and husband Hayden resort to old-fashioned discipline.

She also revealed that Hayden is more of a disciplinarian than her. “Kasi ako kung minsan cute na cute ako sa kanya (Scarlet), hindi ko na nakikita na (makulit siya).”

The doctor and Hayden are partners in shaping the beautiful assets Scarlet has and they encourage her in facing the challenges of being a child at this point in her life.

“And one of the things she did was to get her yellow belt from white belt (in taewondo). She had to study all the forms, you know, do the kicks and break the board…And I was watching, naaawa ako kasi na stress na siya, I could see she’s scared. But you have to let them be. Little successes in life, actually help build self-confidence.”

Dra. Belo tackled informative details abut the unique strengths of women. She also discussed about gender biases.

“There is no bias. Male or female, if you’re magaling, if you’re smart and you work hard, you’ll succeed. ‘Yun lang yun,” is how she believes, which was supported by other doctors who were present during the event.

Meanwhile, Dr. Delta A. Canela shared other knowledge on how do we know if our heart is calling us to consult a doctor.

“Mahirap makasigurado kaya ang aming payo sa lahat ng nakararanas ng chest pain bagamat iba-iba ang uri at pinanggagalingan ng chest pain, o kung ito ba ay galing sa puso o ito ba ay acid reflux lamang, hindi natin masasabi.

“Ang mahalaga the moment na nagkaroon ka ng chest pain, kailangan mong kumonsulta kaagad,” she said.  She added that, “prevention is the best cure para hindi umabot doon, ngayon pa lang always take the time, make a commitment to take care of your heart. Prevention is the best cure para di ka na umabot pa sa pagkakaroon ng chest pain.” (EVELYN C. DIAO/MTVN)

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