Women and Heart Disease

A/Professor Sarah Zaman

 Westmead Hospital and University of Sydney

Heart disease in women has been historically under-recognised and it is only recently that the myriad of sex and gender differences have come to light. Traditionally considered a male disease, coronary heart disease and heart attacks are the number 1 killer of Australian women. Yet women and their health providers have low awareness of their risk, with ongoing delays to hospital presentation and treatment. Female-specific cardiovascular risk factors have been identified, such as pre-eclampsia, premature menopause and gestational diabetes, each conferring a higher chance of developing heart disease. Heart attacks in women have unique characteristics compared to men, including differences in symptom onset, the artery involved and the presence of uncommon, female-dominant non-atherosclerotic causes. Heart failure and cardiac arrhythmia manifest differently according to sex, for instance, women have higher proportions of diastolic heart failure and lower sudden cardiac death. All of this will be explored.


Associate Professor Sarah Zaman is an Academic Interventional Cardiologist at Westmead Hospital and the Westmead Applied Research Centre, University of Sydney, Australia. A/Prof Zaman has been recognized as a national leader in academic cardiology as recipient of the prestigious National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship and NSW Elite Post-doctoral Grant. She has also been recognized internationally within interventional cardiology; having been selected from a world-wide application process to the SCAI-ELM Fellowship. A/Prof Zaman has a PhD from the University of Sydney, targeting prevention of sudden cardiac death. She leads a Women’s Heart Disease Research Program at the University of Sydney focused on healthcare inequities in heart attack care for women and female-predominant cardiac conditions, such as spontaneous coronary artery dissection. She leads clinical studies and has more than $2 million in competitive grant funding. She is regularly invited faculty to national/international interventional scientific meetings and organizes the Australian/New Zealand Endovascular Therapies scientific sessions and Essential Percutaneous Intervention Course. A/Prof Sarah Zaman is an active advocate for women in cardiology, having co-founded the Women in Cardiology groups for Australia/New Zealand.