Women are equally affected by heart attacks!

Women are equally affected by heart attacks!
Women are equally affected by heart attacks!

Mrs. X 39-year lady was having gases and burning in chest she went to meet her physician who gave some antacid and then asked her to meet...

Mrs. X 39-year lady was having gases and burning in chest she went to meet her physician who gave some antacid and then asked her to meet cardiologist. The lady had some relief but burning continued. When she came to hospital ECG was taken it was found she had amassive heart attack but unfortunately, she reported late to hospital and considerable damage to heart was already done before.

It's so saddening hearing this but every now and then we see this in our practice. What happened to Mrs. X is a classic case of delayed diagnosis lack of awareness and atypical presentation of the disease.

Heart disease is portrayed as disease affecting males only by our movies, plays and media advertisements. Contrary to this perception it is seen that women are equally affected by heart ailments. The mortality rate is 264 for women and 348 for men. What is more disturbing is fact that not just women but more and more young women are getting heart disease.

It's a common belief that premenopausal lady because of oestrogen hormone are less likely to get heart disease but that's no more the case now. While most women worry about cancer (breast and cervical) more women die from heart attacks.

rapid urbanisation unhealthy lifestyle, obesity lack of physical activity ,stress of managing home and office,(trying to manage everything and everyone, they forget their own needs, own health and end up neglecting themselves, need to make heart's health a priority, and encourage other women to do the same.

Even though heart disease tends to strike later in life, it can happen at any age) rising incidence of smoking, diabetes, hypertension is leading to dramatic rise in heart disease in women especially younger women. A study by diagnostic lab found more than 40 per cent female in India have abnormal lipid profile making them prone for heart diseases.

Another peculiarity is that in women the symptoms of heart attack are also slightly different than men. Many a times a female do not present with classical symptom of central chest pain radiating to both arm and sweating. More often they present with atypical symptoms like nausea, indigestion like symptoms, shoulder pain, jaw pain burning in chest, heavy breathing or breathlessness.

This leads to misdiagnosis or delay diagnosis. A swiss study found that women waited 37 minutes longer to seek care after initial onset of heart attack symptom (if this is situation in developed country imagine the delay in our country). Another disturbing fact is that women are also less likely to get adequate treatment.

A one study showed that only 38 per cent of women patients got aspirin, against 50.4% of the men. The same is with other treatment like angioplasty or bypass surgery. What can we do to control this? Government and Media have a responsibility to increase the awareness about this in society. Individual should indulge in change in lifestyle to reduce its incidence.

Women can make several lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of heart disease, including:

Exercise regularly (at least 150-300 min a week or 30-45 min per day moderate intensity exercise .If one cannot do 30-45 min at one time it can be broken to 10-10 min session at different interval), Eat a healthy diet that includes whole grains, a variety of fruits and vegetables, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, and lean meats.

Avoid saturated or Trans fat, added sugars, and high amounts of salt. Quit or don't start smoking.Regular yoga/meditation to reduce impact of stress, Need to manage other risk factors like DM /Hypetension/Lipid level by using appropriate medications. Last but not the least Be aware of about this disease and its symptoms do regular health checks, seek Doctors advice early and take appropriate treatment and not neglect symptoms thinking them as Gas problem or general weakness etc.

A healthy informed and conscious woman can make their home environment heart healthy thereby improving the heart health of family and society at large. The writer is a MBBS, MD (gen medicine), DM (cardiology); chief of cathlab services & interventional cardiology and senior consultant cardiologist; Continental Hospitals)

-Dr Bharat Vijay Purohit

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