Women Against heart Disease Lunch

Perth women joining forces to beat Australia’s biggest killer

Heart disease survivors, advocates, and scientists gathered in Perth on Friday to attend the inaugural Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute’s Women Against Heart Disease Lunch.

Elizabeth Gaines at Victor Chang Institute's Women Against Heart Disease Lunch in Perth

The event, which was hosted by Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute Non-Executive Director and former CEO and current Director of Fortescue Metals Group Elizabeth Gaines, aims to raise awareness of the dangers of heart disease – which takes the lives of three times more women than breast cancer.

Attendees of the event, held at Wildflower, COMO The Treasury, got the chance to hear from heart disease survivors Melissa del Popolo, who survived a sudden cardiac arrest, and mother of two Sam Allan, who suffered a SCAD heart attack in 2021.

SCAD, which stands for Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection, is the number one cause of heart attacks in women under the age of 50 and affects mostly fit and otherwise healthy women.

Sam Allan says: “I had no idea that I was at risk of having a heart attack and I think most women my age would feel the same.  We need women to understand there are different heart conditions that affect them and different symptoms too, and make sure that we all start taking much better care of hearts and those of our loved ones.”

Sam Allan and Melissa del Popolo share their experiences with heart disease
Elizabeth Gaines says: “Like many Australians, heart disease has affected my family. We need to ensure that every Australian woman is fully aware of the risks of heart disease and gets properly diagnosed and treated. Every day 10 Australian women will die from a heart attack. By raising awareness and conducting research into Australia’s biggest killer we can save lives in the future.”

Research has found women are less likely to seek help when they suffer symptoms of a heart attack, less likely to get the necessary medical investigations to treat their heart disease, and less likely to start on preventative treatments.

Professor Jason Kovacic, the Institute’s Director, and a cardiologist, adds: “We need to end the misconception once and for all that heart disease is a man’s disease.

“Whilst men have heart attacks earlier than women, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men. As a cardiologist, I often see women who are stunned to discover they have heart disease.”

Professor Livia Hool, who heads the Institute’s hub in Perth at The University of Western Australia, and also spoke at the event, says: “There are many things we can all be doing to lessen our risk of heart disease including having a heart health check and adopting a healthy lifestyle.”

Professor Hool, the Wesfarmers, UWA-VCCRI Chair in Cardiovascular Research, adds: “I would also urge any woman who experiences any unusual symptoms to get checked. It’s far better to be safe than sorry.”

Around 70 women attended the stunning event, with one guest taking home a COMO The Treasury gift voucher which included one night’s accommodation in a Heritage Balcony Room, a six-course dinner for two with matched wine pairings at Wildflower, breakfast for two at Post, in-room refreshments, and valet parking for one vehicle, valued at $2,525.00.

We would also like to thank COMO The Treasury for their generous support of the event, Cockatoo Grove which gifted a bottle of olive oil for each guest and to MC extraordinaire Tina Altieri.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute acknowledges Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; and to Elders past and present.

Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute - The Home of Heart Research for 30 Years