Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death globally and are the leading cause of death in India also.
The most common tests that are done to check the risk of CVD are the lipid tests. The general knowledge is that CVD is more prevalent in men than in women and South Asian men encountering a heart attack are at least five years younger than women on an average.
A recent analysis on lipid tests results done by SRL Diagnostics, the leading diagnostic chain in India, showed that more than 41% of women had an abnormal lipid profile, which revealed an alarming fact that women in India are also prone to cardiovascular diseases.
The analysis is based on more than 3.3 million lipid profile tests performed at SRL Labs across India during the period of 2014-2016.
For the analysis purpose, SRL divided the samples received from across the country into four zones- East, West, North and SouthThe reports reveals that the two zones (North - 33.11% and East - 35.67%) in India showed higher abnormal levels of triglycerides while low HDL and high total cholesterol levels were more commonly seen in South (34.15%) and West zones (31.90%) of India.
A lipid profile measures the amount of cholesterol present in lipid carrier proteins like Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) etc and fats (triglyceride) present in the blood.
High total cholesterol levels usually don't cause any symptoms but can lead to thickening or blocking of arteries which ultimately lead to cardiovascular problems like angina, heart attack or stroke.
Therefore, lipid levels are one of the most prescribed blood tests worldwide. Not only for measuring risk of CVD, lipid tests are regularly used to initiate and manage therapy of cholesterol lowering drugs also.
The study also revealed the following facts -
- The age-group of 46-60 years considered the most vulnerable period for CVDs in women also had the highest level of abnormality (48%) in the lipid profile tests.
- Overall high triglycerides were the most commonly seen abnormality (~32%) in women.
- The two zones (North - 33.11% and East - 35.67%) showed higher abnormal levels of triglycerides compared with other two zones
- More cases of abnormal HDL were seen in women from South Zone, while Western Zone women had maximum level of abnormality in total cholesterol levels (31.90%).
Commenting on the research, Dr. Avinash Phadke, President Technology & Mentor (Clinical Pathology) from SRL Diagnostics said, "The burden of cardiovascular disease in India has been growing steadily over the past few decades. Most women worry about breast cancer, but more women die from heart attacks than from cancer. In India cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women. It's an alarming situation as heart attacks appear differently in women than men and it is more fatal in the post menopausal women than it is in men. We should all work together to spread awareness in the society about this fact."
According to available statistics, of the more than 10 million deaths annually in India, almost two million are due to diseases of circulatory system, of which 40 per cent are women.
High saturated fat, sugar and salt intake, very low consumption of vegetables and whole grains leading to obesity, coupled with sedentary lifestyles, rising stress levels and smoking are the major contributory factors for deterioration of heart health in women in India.