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Empowered Hearts - Navigating the Unique Landscape of Women and Heart Health - An Interview with Dr. Randolph Rawlins

Updated: Mar 11

Q1:  In light of American Heart Month's focus on women's cardiovascular health, can you share insights into the specific challenges or disparities you've observed in Trinidad and Tobago, the diagnosis and treatment of heart-related issues in women compared to men?

A: A century ago, heart disease was considered a man's disease. Nobody thought heart disease affected women. Heart disease, not breast cancer, is the number one cause of mortality in women of all ethnic backgrounds. It affects approximately 1 in 5 women, with a greater number of women diagnosed after menopause. The challenges of early diagnosis, investigations, and definitive management impact both women and men. Smaller body surface area in some females may influence medical procedures chosen and treatment strategies.


Q2: What proactive measures or strategies do you believe can be implemented to ensure that women, particularly those from diverse backgrounds, receive timely recognition, diagnosis, and treatment for cardiac events?

A: Proactive measures to improve diagnosis and management may be patient-driven or institution-directed. An understanding of risk factors for heart disease in women, signs and symptoms, and periodic screening evaluations are essential. Individuals need to be empowered to assume responsibility for their health. Upon presentation to healthcare facilities, institutions must provide timely diagnosis and treatment.


Q3: How can we improve public awareness and education about the risks and symptoms of heart-related issues among women, and what role do healthcare professionals play in this effort?

A: Improving public awareness and education about risk factors, signs, and symptoms of heart issues should be an ongoing process. The role of the clinician is central to providing leadership and guidance. The use of print and electronic media, national education programs, fundraising events, patient materials, websites, and literature for healthcare professionals are important strategies.


Q4: Heart-health disparities are noted to widen when combined with race, ethnicity, and social factors. In your experience, what steps can be taken within the healthcare system to address these intersectional disparities and ensure equitable access to heart health resources and care for all women?

A: "The Patient's Charter entitles every patient to equal access to a consistently high standard of care, and protects every patient's civil and religious liberties, including the right to independent personal decisions and knowledge of available choices". Providing quality medical care and clinical excellence for all people should be the goal of medical institutions and service providers.


In conclusion, Dr. Randolph Rawlins has illuminated the challenges surrounding women's cardiovascular health in Trinidad and Tobago.. His insights underscore the need for proactive measures at both individual and institutional levels to improve early diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Rawlins advocates for ongoing public awareness initiatives, leveraging diverse channels, and addressing intersectional disparities within healthcare systems. His perspective serves as a call to action, urging us to prioritize equitable access, education, and a patient-centric approach for a heart-healthy future that transcends gender, race, and social factors

Dr. Randolph Rawlins


Chief Medical Officer

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