Professor Dr Vera Regitz-Zagrosek gave a message to people at a conference at Kirchberg Hospital, namely to beware of the different symptoms experienced in male and female cardiology patients.
The conference was organised by the National Heart Centre, the INCCI and as well as by the association of cardiology patients. The aim: to raise awareness around the risks of cardiovascular disease in women on the international 'Go Red for Women' day.
"Most women still believe that breast cancer is their main health risk, but this is not true. Most women actually die from cardiovascular diseases.", emphasises Dr Regitz-Zagrosek, a specialist in cardiology and senior professor at Charité Berlin and the University of Zurich.
She calls on women to take cardiovascular disease seriously as a risk factor, starting with the symptoms. These are different to those of men and are therefore usually only recognised and treated too late. A classic example is a heart attack, for example.
"Men almost always feel pressure on the left side of the chest and a pulling sensation in the left arm. In women, the symptoms can be much more widespread in the upper body. The pain can be in the back or in the right side of the upper body, but also in the teeth or neck, and women are often extremely tired or have sweats."
The fact that women are at such a high risk of cardiovascular disease is partly due to stress, which has a different effect on the female body.
"Women have a heart-brain-immunological axis. This means that there is a connection between stress, which can be recognised in the brain, an activation of the inflammatory system and heart disease, which is much less pronounced in men."
Women have significantly more stress, not least because of the double burden of work and family. However, they must not forget that their health is also important.
"I think it's very important that women can say that their health is also important. Normally, women look after their children, their grandparents, the kitchen, the cat, the dog, the husband, but least of all themselves. The awareness of saying 'I can also get ill and take care of my own health' needs to become more widespread among many women."
Dr Regitz-Zagrosek is considered a pioneer in gender medicine and is also in favour of taking the female body more into account when developing medicines and therapies.
After all, 80 per cent of animal tests are carried out on young males - the substances produced there are therefore developed primarily for men from the very outset.