An article by Dr Rohinee Motwani, Director, Just For Hearts, Consultant — Cardiac Rehabilitation, Lifestyle Disease & Weight Management in SHE, Sakaal Times
Friday, April 06, 2012
Take Care Of Your Heart (link to the news article)
When you hear the term ‘heart disease’, you instantly associate it with men. After all, it is a man’s disease, or so we believe. It is a well-known fact that women are genetically protected against heart disease.
However, almost 8.6 million women worldwide die of heart disease every year, accounting for a third of all women deaths. According to statistics, the mortality rate among women suffering from cardiovascular diseases is also higher than that of men across the world, including India. The main reason for this phenomenon is a change in the lifestyle.
Today’s lifestyle allows women the liberty to get work done by the domestic help and automated appliances have made chores much easier. Life has become more comfortable, and women are leading more of a sedentary lifestyle. Working women too spend a lot of time sitting in one place, with minimum physical activity.
The symptoms of heart disease differ in severity and intensity among women as compared to what men feel prior to and during a heart attack. What’s worse is that women’s symptoms are not as predictable as those seen among men. Hence, in our case, the risk is higher because it is difficult to diagnose it at the right time.
Till the time a woman reaches menopause, she is protected against heart disease due to estrogen. But after menopause, the lack of estrogen and rise in triglycerides increase the risk we face. Add to this diabetes, a large waist size, high blood pressure — and the risk of acquiring heart disease increases manifold.
It is a lesser known fact that women find it harder to quit smoking, as the menstrual cycle can have an effect on tobacco withdrawal and may reduce the effect of anti-smoking medication.
Chest pain, perceived to be the most common symptom of a heart attack, may not occur in case of women. It may be replaced by nausea, neck and shoulder pain, fatigue, restless sleep and so on, a month before the heart attack.
Since women’s coronary arteries are lighter and smaller, it is more difficult to carry out treatment procedures like angiography, angioplasty and coronary bypass surgery. This reduces the possibility of a positive response to treatment.
Women should bear in mind:
- Keep a proactive approach for a healthy heart.
- A healthy diet intake is a must. Visit a dietician to chart out a diet plan that suits your individual physical needs.
- Your diet should be low on trans fats, saturated fats, salt, sodium and sugar. Eat more of whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits.
- Monitor blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure regularly. Any abnormality is an indication that you need to take better care to reverse the condition before it gets worse.
- Family support goes a long way in managing stress at work and home.
- Women who are addicted to nicotine should seek support to quit smoking. This can help reduce the risk of heart disease drastically and keep general health in check too.
- Remember that prevention is better than cure, more so in case of lifestyle diseases that are difficult to reverse, and the cost of treatment is also extremely high.