Title: Gender and images of heart disease in Scandinavian drug advertising
Journal / Publication: Scandinavian Journal of Public Health
Pages: 585 – 590
Aims: This study examines the construction of the “heart disease candidate” in advertisements for cardiovascular drugs in Scandinavian medical journals. Methods: All advertisements for cardiovascular drugs (n=603) in Scandinavian medical journals (Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden) in 2005 were collected. Only advertisements that portray users (n=289, 48% of the advertisements) were analyzed. Results: The results show that coronary candidacy is constructed as a male condition in half of the advertisements for cardiovascular drugs. The advertisements suggest a gendering of heart disease: men are the major victims of heart failure and cardiac insufficiency, and women are in need of cholesterol-lowering drugs. The cardiovascular drug advertisements portray a restoration of men’s hyperactive agency, valorized by means of sporty images, by drawing on masculinity as a fixed trait and behavior. Hypercholesterolemia as a woman’s disease reproduces the tyranny of slimness for women: Only women’s stoutness is medicalized, and there are no pictures of heavy men. Conclusions: The findings point to the public health implications of gendered images of coronary candidacy in medical advertising.