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For women, heart disease can be a silent threat

Treating high blood pressure could also reduce risk of memory loss, new study

Toronto, ON – (February 20, 2019) — Heart disease is the leading killer of women worldwide. On International Women’s Day (March 8, 2019), let’s shine a spotlight on women heart health. One in three women will die as a result of heart disease or stroke, with symptoms often going undetected. Heart attacks go unrecognized in women up to 54% of the time. Here’s the good news: Heart disease is largely preventable. Over 80% of risk factors are within your control. 

“It’s never too late to make changes to your lifestyle,” says Dr. Beth Abramson, Director of Cardiology at Medcan.  Work with your physician or health-care team to manage your waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.

Dr. Abramson recommends that by age 40, it’s important to know your family history of hypertension (parents or siblings) and share this with your physician. It may be necessary to periodically keep track of blood pressure and take hypertension medication.

Growing research that vascular health has a role in cognitive health

Adopting lifestyle changes in diet and exercise could also reduce dementia risk in later life. Exercise triggers release of nourishing chemicals to the brain and helps with the creation of new brain cells and brain cell repair. A study released earlier this year adds to growing research that blood pressure and other measures of vascular health have a role in cognitive health.

The SPRINT MIND study published in JAMA found that people with hypertension who received intensive treatment (resulting in blood pressure dropping below 120) to lower their blood pressure were less likely than those receiving standard blood pressure treatment (which brought blood pressure just under 140) to develop minor memory and thinking problems that often progress to dementia. This finding was a secondary outcome of the study and requires further research.

“High blood pressure damages large and small blood vessels in the brain and increases the risk of stroke and dementia. Poorly managed blood pressure increases one’s risk of vascular dementia as well as Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Sharon Cohen, Neurologist and Director of Toronto Memory Program and a partner with Medcan.

Dr. Cohen was at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) conference in July 2018 when the study was presented.  “High blood pressure is a treatable risk factor and therefore should not be ignored.”

Mid-life hypertension linked to Alzheimer’s disease

Estimates suggest that 8% of cases of Alzheimer’s disease may be attributable to mid-life hypertension.  A 2014 Johns Hopkins study found that people with high blood pressure at midlife had greater decline in key thinking skills later in life than those with normal blood pressure readings. It was the equivalent of 2.7 extra years of brain aging in their 70s, 80s or 90s, enough time to push someone from mild cognitive impairment to a diagnosis of dementia.

Gender differences in heart attack symptoms

Women’s heart attack symptoms can be different from
men’s and often include: chest pain or discomfort; pain in the back, neck, jaw or arm; stomach pain; shortness of breath, nausea; sweating or unusual fatigue.

About Medcan (

Medcan provides organizations and individuals with services that inspire them to live well through achieving their very best health – in both body and mind.

Medcan has a comprehensive range of diagnostic assessments, which, in combination with innovative programs tailored to specific needs, are designed to successfully reach improved health outcomes. Over 90 physicians and specialists, including those in pain and weight management, nutrition, genetics, fitness, sports medicine and psychology, offer a broad roster of complementary healthcare disciplines. Refine by Medcan, our dermatology branch, applies the Medcan wellness philosophy to the care of your skin – because how you look largely determines how you feel. Nourish by Medcan leverages elements of the well-researched and plant-based Mediterranean diet to offer personal meal planning as well as catering services for large events.

Medcan partners with over 1,200 corporate accounts and 50,000 private clients to set and achieve health and wellness goals. We provide health and lifestyle management services, on-site and by video, for individuals, families and organizations across Canada. Our team of over 550 Medcanners sees clients in-clinic and virtually from our downtown Toronto location. Medcan also supports clients across the country through a carefully-curated network of affiliate clinics.


Press Contact Info

Tiffany Melton, Director, Communications
[email protected]
Office: 416.350.5900

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