Think Zone

Heart and women

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If you thought that the male species suffered mostly from heart attacks, think again. International cardiologist Rajiv Bhagwat  says that until a few years ago heart disease was primarily  considered a male diseases. But statistics over the women are nearly as much at risk of heart disease and fatal heart attack as man. There could be a myriad of reasons for these changes – health complaints in woman often go undiagnosed until it is too later for effective treatment. Studies show that heart disease kills six times as many women than breast cancer. The number of women affected with heart diseases is growing with changing lifestyle. Women today cope with increasing pressures. Coronary artery disease  (CAD) is mostly seen in post menopausal women diabetic women get affected at an even younger age.CAD is a condition where cholesterol deposit at the lining of the coronary arteries that supply to the heart. This narrows arteries and obstructs blood flow to the thus causes a heart attack says Dr. Bhagwat. Consultant interventional cardiologist Dr. Vijay surase says that unknown to many people; heart disease is the number one killer of women and often acts differently than the way it affects men. Risk factors include diabetes hypertension, hyperlipidemia, smoking, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle. Family history also plays a role. During heart attacks women, experience nausea, vomiting, indigestion shortness of breath or extreme fatigue – but surprisingly many a times on chest pain. Unfortunately, these symptoms are easy to attribute to something other than heart attack than men to have silent  heart attacks – an attack without any acute symptoms that are diagnosed only later when subsequent cardiac symptoms are re-evaluated and tests are performed” says  Dr. surase. According to cardiac surgeon Dr. arun mehra emphasizing on improve diet decreases cholesterol levels increases exercise, maintain a healthy body weight and avoid smoking all contribute to a steady decrease in death rate from heart disease for man since the 80’s. Unfortunately, the rate for the women has remained largely unchanged. Thus, heart disease in men and women has to be viewed differently. Prior to menopause, the estrogen hormone seems to have a protective effect in maintaining adequate levels of good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol which serves to protect the body’s overall cardiovascular health. Estrogen also works to relax the smooth muscle of arteries, help maintain normal blood pressure and prevent some forms of blood vessel damage. However the beneficial cardiovascular effect of estrogen are lost after menopause when the rate of heart disease-related death for women steadily increases,” says Dr. mehra. There are many factors that can contribute in increasing risk of heart diseases in post-menopausal women – diabetes, obesity high blood pressure  and high cholesterol are the main culprits. Other factors include stressful lifestyles, women with a family history of heart disease overweight women ones who do not indulge  in  adequate physical activity and those who use birth control  pills indiscriminately  dietary  changes weight loss, lipid lowering mediations quitting smoking reducing obesity and undertaking regular exercise are important lifestyle measures. Heart attacks in women often strike without any warning so make sure you go for regular health checks. Prevention is the best way to deal with heart conditions.  These include a healthy diet and a healthy fitness regime. Women with premature  menopause should take estrogen to reduce the risk of heart disease.