Statistics indicate that heart diseases and stroke cause one in three female deaths every year around the world, killing approximately one woman every 80 seconds.
Additionally, about 90% of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease or stroke. There is a higher lifetime risk of stroke in women than in men and what exacerbates this situation is that the symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and are often misunderstood.
Though the risk factors are many, lifestyle changes and awareness can prevent about 80% of these heart disease and stroke events.
Speaking about this, Dr Deep Chandra Pant, HOD-Department of Medicine & Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Shri Ram Murthy Smarak Institute of Medical Sciences, Bareilly said, "The traditional risk factors for heart disease include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity. However, there are specific risk factors that play a role in the development of heart disease in women. Some of these include diabetes, mental stress and depression, smoking, lack of physical activity, menopause, broken heart syndrome, and complications during pregnancy. It is imperative for women in all age groups to take the risk factors associated with this condition seriously. Those with a family history of heart disease should pay more heed."
Lifestyle factors also play a major role in heart disease in women. Consumption of food that has high saturated fat, sugar, and salt; limited intake of vegetables and whole grains, sedentary lifestyles and rising stress levels are some examples which are the major contributors for deterioration of heart health in women.
These lifestyle factors along with the other co morbid conditions result in low levels of estrogen in women, which is one of the top five reasons for heart disease in women today.
Adding, Dr Pant said, "Some possible warning signs of a heart attack in women include regular symptoms like chest pain. However, older women may have fatigue, shortness of breath, indigestion, upper abdominal pain or nausea, jaw or throat pain and a shooting pain in the arm, chest pain in left, right or even in the middle. Most women ignore these symptoms and pains which are possible indicators of a heart attack. There is a need to create awareness among women about these risk factors and symptoms. They should be counselled to visit the physician as soon as they experience any such unusual pain."
Here are some tips to prevent heart disease in women.
-Quit smoking: It is never too late to kick this unhealthy habit. Quitting smoking helps in reducing blood pressure, improving circulation, and increasing the oxygen supply.
-Eat healthy: Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish, nuts, legumes, and seeds. Try eating some meals without meat. Go for lower fat dairy products and poultry (skinless). Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and red meat.
-Get physically active: A moderate workout for about 30 minutes every day is beneficial for heart health. Exercise not only helps increase blood circulation but also reduces stress.
-Manage associated conditions: Some of these include diabetes and blood pressure. Get these levels monitored frequently. If you notice any fluctuations, it is a good idea to consult the doctor.
-Stress management: Techniques such as yoga and meditation can help bring down stress levels. It is important to remember that stress will only increase your likelihood of developing various disorders and therefore, it must be managed effectively. Try and get adequate sleep too.