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Mortality Rates in Canada

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Since women tend to live longer than men and CVD among older people is more frequent, it is expected that the number of deaths from cardiovascular reasons among women will likely surpass the ones among men in the near future.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada[1]:

total

women

men

79,457

39,619

39,838

  • Acute myocardial infraction (AMI) was the leading cause of death among Canadian women.

  • The percentage of deaths due to cardiovascular disease in women increases significantly after menopause and keeps on increasing with age.

  • Mortality due to cardiovascular causes largely exceeded deaths related to all other forms of neoplasms combined.

  • It also exceeded deaths from infectious diseases, respiratory diseases, complications of pregnancy and all other major categories of diseases in women.

On the other hand, age standardized mortality rates from CVD overall have decreased steadily over the past 3 decades among Canadian men and women. This decline maybe attributed to the reduction in the frequency of smoking and other risk factors and by improved therapies for people who develop CVD. Generally there has been a decrease in age standardized mortality rates from CVD, IHD and from acute MI in women[1]. Although the frequency of deaths due to Cardiovascular causes overall has increased, the number of IHD deaths has declined for men and has reached a plateau for women over the past three decades. There has also been a significant decrease in deaths from acute MI in men and a less pronounced decrease in acute MI deaths in women.

The increase in cardiovascular deaths and the probable increase in deaths from IHD in the next decade is related mainly to Canada’s aging population. In 1995 it was estimated that the life expectancy for Canadian women would be 81.3 years and 13.7% of Canadian women were aged 65 years or more in 1995. The percentage of older women is most likely to increase by the year 2041, where close to one quarter of the total of Canadian population will be aged 65 years or more. Since women tend to live longer than men, and CVD among older people is more frequent, it is expected that the number of deaths from cardiovascular reasons among women will likely surpass the ones among men in the near future. Hence, it is fair to reason that while deaths due to CVD will not change significantly amongst Canadian men over the next two decades, the numbers for women will increase by 28% between 1995 and 2016[1].

The predicted future increase in CVD deaths among Canadian women is expected to cause higher numbers of deaths from both stroke and IHD. Currently, the mortality caused by cerebrovascular disease (stroke) is already higher for women, this being a trend that is very likely to continue into the future. Regionally, among both men and women, there are noteworthy differences in the number of deaths due to IHD in Canada. In 1995 the highest mortality rate amongst women was reported in Newfoundland and the lowest rate in British Columbia. Likewise, IHD and overall CVD mortality and morbidity rates vary in the provinces and regions.

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1. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada: Heart disease and stroke in Canada. Ottawa, Canada, October 1999.

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