The Heart and Stroke Foundation says cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death for Canadian women, yet many aren’t aware of the threat to their health.

Doctor Shekhar Pandey says women’s heart health isn’t getting the attention it deserves.

“Prioritizing your health and prioritizing your life as well is very important,” said Dr. Pandey

“The gains that we are seeing fighting heart disease in men, we are not seeing that in women,” he said.

Pandey’s wife Michelle lost her mother to heart disease twelve years ago this week.

Both he and his wife have spent years advocating for women to become informed.

Diet, exercise, stress management and smoking are all risk factors.

Women who have diabetes or come from certain ethnic backgrounds or are menopausal are at even more risk.

“What I always say to my female patients is 'you know what, I appreciate that you really have to keep the family together, but if you really got ill the whole family would fall apart',” said Dr. Pandey.

He says there is a misconception amongst women that heart attacks are a men’s health problem and that statistics show women are more likely than men to die of a heart attack.

“It’s really about women recognizing that they are at risk and making early changes and choices to try to prevent that disease from happening,” said Dr. Pandey

“In her 17 years of heart disease, it lead me to a realization that I just didn't want to go down that path,” said Michelle Pandey.