Israeli women at higher risk

They possess significantly higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease than Israeli men.

Israeli women 88 (photo credit: )
Israeli women 88
(photo credit: )
Israeli women have significantly higher risk factors - high blood pressure, high cholesterol and overweight - for cardiovascular disease than Israeli men, according to a new survey released by the Health Ministry on Wednesday to mark International Women's Day. The study, which covers 2003/4, was carried out by Israel's Center for Disease Control as part of the World Health Organization-European Region's EUROHIS Project. Almost 10,000 Israeli women - Jews and Arabs - over the age of 21 were interviewed for the survey about their own health. The data were self-reported, so it may not exactly reflect reality. Thirty-one percent of the women say they perform physical activity during their leisure time, compared to 33% of the men. Women are much less likely to smoke (18.1%) compared to men (32.7%). While 13.6% of the men said they had been diagnosed by a doctor as having hypertension, 17% of the women said this. In addition, 18% of the women said they were found to have high cholesterol levels, a finding that only 15.3% of the men said about themselves. Women also were more likely to report that they were overweight than men: 330,000 women said that after calculating their body mass index (weight in kilos divided by the square of their height in meters squared), it was higher than 25 and thus constituted overweight; the number of men who admitted to this was just 260,000. But reporting of diabetes was lower in the women (5.2%) than in the men (6.3%). Fully 30.1% of the women polled said they had consulted with their family doctors within four weeks of the survey, while only 24.5% of the men said this. While 74.8% of the men described their own health as good or very good, only 68.7% said this about themselves. A total of 85.2% of Jewish women over 50 said they had at least one gone for mammography screening (to diagnose breast cancer), but the figure among Israeli Arab women was only 67.2%. Meanwhile, a separate ministry survey - this one comparing Israeli health to that in Organization for Economic and Development (OECD) states - was released with data up to 2003. It showed that the rate of hospital beds per 1,000 residents here is among the lowest of the OECD countries (2.2, compared to 6.6 in Germany and 4.4 as the OECD average), average bed occupancy is very high at 95%, and the average hospital stay is, at 4.2 days, considerably shorter than the OECD average. At the same time, Israel is seventh in the list of developed countries regarding the rate of physicians (3.4) per 1,000 residents. The Israeli population is younger than all the other OECD countries, and the life expectancy for men is in sixth place, but women's life expectancy is lower. Its infant mortality rate is lower than the OECD average, but the percentage of newborns with low-birth weight (under 2.5 kilos) is significantly higher than the others (mostly because of the high rate of fertility treatments and the multiple pregnancies that result). National expenditure on health, 8.5% of the Gross Domestic Product, is similar to the average OECD figure, but Israel spends less on mental health.