As per several researches, the risk of cardiovascular diseases is more in women due to several external and internal pressures on health
Recent research suggests that more than 50 % of women in India live with an abnormal cholesterol level - a primary risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. While heart disease is one of the leading causes of mortality among women worldwide, the good news is that it is mostly preventable. If only women are more aware of their unique heart symptoms and risk factors, cardiac issues can be kept at bay at every stage of life.
Understanding the risk
- Menopause: Premenopausal women are less prone to coronary artery disease than their male counterparts due to the protection offered by estrogen- a female hormone — a women’s risk of cardiovascular disease increases after menopause. The risk of cardiac problems is higher in women with early menopause (before age 50) or surgical menopause, especially when combined with other risk factors.
- Family history: Women with a family history of heart disease need to be extra careful and informed about the various heart disease risk factors. It is essential to know whether your father/brother had a heart attack before the age of 55 or a mother or sister had suffered such a heart episode before the age of 65.
- Stress: Today, heart disease is affecting more women in the reproductive age group. One of the major reason behind this is the increased stress levels. Higher prevalence of diabetes, obesity and related ailments and physical inactivity add to the chances of cardiovascular problems.
Know your symptoms
Heart disease symptoms in women are different than men. Many times they may be absent altogether. Rather than having severe chest pain, a woman with angina may experience shortness of breath, abdominal discomfort, giddiness, sweating, arm pain, neck ache etc.
Following are some preventive measures for women to lower the risk of heart diseases:
Maintain your cholesterol level: High cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Keep monitoring your cholesterol level and eat food which has less salt and oil. Get your lipid profile, blood pressure and diabetes screened annually.
Get Moving: Try walking for 30 minutes a day, five times a week to keep your weight down and your heart in shape.
Tweak your eating habits: Avoid eating junk, keep a healthy balance of salads and fruits in your food and don't eat your meals late in the night.
Get enough sleep: Good sleep is an essential part of keeping the heart-healthy. Sleep for a good 6-8 hours during the night.
Choose birth control cautiously: Many contraceptives can cause an increase in blood pressure & risk of blood clotting; so ask your doctor about the dose and type of contraceptives.
Maintain the right Body Mass Index: Keep your weight under check to avoid diseases like diabetes, which can result in heart disease.
Maintain optimum dental and gum health: Dental health is vital to maintaining heart health. It is said that people with gum diseases have more chances of having a weak heart.
Don’t smoke: If you smoke, you lose your female advantage towards coronary artery disease.
Cardiac (Heart) screening: Many women remain asymptomatic despite having underlying heart disease. It is best to visit your cardiologist and undergo a heart screening at least once in 5 years after age 40 to detect underlying heart disease.
With inputs from Dr Santosh Kumar Dora, Senior Cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai
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