Women more prone to heart diseases and associated mortality

12:12 pm Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine

Apart from lifestyle changes, it is imperative to consult a specialist in case of any warning signs

New Delhi, 7 March 2019: The Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) wishes all its women readers a very happy International Women’s Day. On this day, there is a need to spread awareness on the fact that heart diseases are the number one killer in women. They are often diagnosed late in women and statistics indicate that heart diseases cause 1 in 3 deaths each year in this segment of the population.

Women over 20 years of age without an established heart disease should undergo periodic cardiovascular risk assessment every three to five years. This will help identify any underlying heart condition or risk factors to help take action on time. The choice of a specific risk model for heart disease risk assessment should be individualized based on patient-specific characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity).

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. More women die of heart disease than all the seven cancers known to occur in women. Unfortunately, the level of awareness of heart disease is much lower compared to cancer. Hence, women are not diagnosed or treated as aggressively as men. Some heart disease risk factors are unique to women, including postmenopausal status, prior hysterectomy, oral contraceptive use and pregnancy and its complications. Warning signs of a heart attack in women differ from those in men. Although the most common symptom of heart attack is chest pain or discomfort, women are more likely to have pain in the jaw, neck or back (between the shoulder blades), unexplained weakness or fatigue or they may present with symptoms like shortness of breath, cough, dizziness or nausea. This often results in misdiagnosis and delay in treatment.”

Heart disease in women has a worse prognosis. Women tend to develop heart disease about a decade later in life than men, but their outcomes are often worse than in men.

Adding further, Dr Vanita Arora, Director and Head of Cardiac Electrophysiology Lab and Arrhythmia Services, Max Hospital, New Delhi, said, “Women do not consult a doctor when they have a heart problem. Tachycardia is not treated in women and usually passed off as anxiety. It is important to note that electrical disorders of the heart are highly common in women. They often experience an increase in heart rate called palpitation (a condition compared with the galloping of a horse). An increase in the heart rate of more than 130 or 140 is dangerous and requires immediate attention.”

Some tips from HCFI

For all Women

  • Moderate intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes and for 60 to 90 minutes for weight management on most days of the week.
  • Avoidance and cessation of cigarette smoking and passive smoking
  • Keep waist circumference below 30 inches.
  • Take a heart-friendly diet. Include omega-3 fatty acids in diet.
  • Keep blood sugar, ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and blood pressure (BP) under control.
  • In women older than 65 years of age, daily aspirin may be considered in consultation with the doctor.
  • Women who smoke should avoid oral contraceptive pills.
  • Treat underlying depression.

Women at high risk

  • Aspirin 75 to 150 mg, as prevention
  • Control of high blood pressure
  • No use of antioxidant vitamin supplement
  • No use of folic acid support
  • No Hormone Replacement Therapy
  • Lowering of LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol to less than 80

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