Preventing heart diseases in womenCardiologist Anil Dhall says that although heart disease is often thought of as a problem for men, it often affects women who have reached menopause or have diabetes.
Although heart disease is thought of as a problem for men, it kills more women than any other disease. Women are as prone to heart disease as men are, but are protected by their hormones till they reach menopause. In fact, studies have shown that heart attacks are more fatal in young women than among older men.
Just like in men, Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) constitutes the highest number of cases among women too. CAD is seen mostly in post-menopausal women, but diabetic women could get affected at a much younger age. Valvular heart diseases are other common problems in women in which the valves start leaking or get obstructed, leading to heart failure if not treated on time.
Symptoms in women: Heart disease symptoms in women are milder. They manifest as nausea, excessive fatigue, dizziness and burning sensation in the chest. Heart attacks in women often strike without a warning and the rate of fatality is higher.
Most of the risk factors are lifestyle-related and adequate changes can reduce risks. Women in older age groups and those with a family history of heart disease are more prone to developing heart disease. Lifestyle-related factors are smoking, unhealthy diet, inadequate physical activity and obesity.
The physiological conditions that push risk factors up are high BP, diabetes, high cholesterol and early menopause (before 40 years). Birth control pills, along with exposure to cigarette smoke, are triggers.
Diet and exercise: Prevention is the best way to deal with heart conditions. A diet rich in high fibre, fruits, vegetables and fish is good. Reduce saturated fat, trans-fatty acids (hydrogenated oil), alcohol and sodium. Vitamin E and Vitamin C play an important role in prevention of heart disease.
A regular fitness regimen should complement a healthy diet. Do brisk walking, aerobics or cardio exercises. Prescribed medications such as BP medications, blood thinners and aspirin need to be taken appropriately. Control stress levels both at work and at home.
It is, therefore, imperative for women to undergo medical checkups every year and be aware of the symptoms that they might experience yet often ignore. Angioplasty or stenting may be a better option for some women at times.