Heart Disease In Women: Know Common Risk Factors And Prevention Tips
World Heart Day 2020: Several factors can increase the risk of heart disease in women these days. Read here to know what leads to heart disease in women and ways to fight this risk.
World Heart Day 2020: Heart disease can affect both men and women
- Adequate sleep can help fight heart disease risk
- Add colourful foods to your diet for a healthy body
- Regular exercise is essential for your heart health
Heart disease was once considered to be a man's disease, however in today's world this is no longer the case. Women today are increasingly presenting with symptoms of cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and heart blockage. Indian women are at an increased risk of heart disease caused by metabolic conditions such as excessive body fat around the waist, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high sugar etc. There are multiple factors that have contributed to this increase in women, the major reason being a drastic shift in lifestyle. Women today are more prone to taking up unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, binging on junk foods with high saturated fat content, high stress lifestyle making them susceptible to hypertension and other such issues.
Heart Disease in Women: Know possible causes
Smoking is considered to be one of the major risk factors towards declining health and it contributes to a variety of health conditions such as cancer and heart disease. The heart undergoes excessive stress - smokers have significantly lower oxygen levels and high carbon monoxide levels which leads to extra pressure on the heart. Cigarettes also contain toxic chemicals mixed with tobacco which can cause damage to the arterial lining and makes it harder for the heart to pump blood through the body. In the last decade or so, there has been an increase in the number of women taking to smoking which has consequently increased the burden of heart disease and cancer in women in India.
Stress and hypertension are one of the leading causes of heart disease in people. Today's world has seen an unprecedented rise in the levels of stress and hypertension faced by the average citizen and over a period, the heart falls victim to the same. Hypertension is known as a silent killer - it takes years before an individual realizes the effects of stress and hypertension on the heart, by when it is often irreversible. Stress has a neurological basis which leaves the body in a constant fight-or-flight mode. Over a period of time, high levels of stress damage the heart. Combined with poor lifestyle and dietary habits, these factors form a deadly combination that can easily take its toll on a woman's heart.
Today's fast-paced lifestyle often does not allow a woman enough time to dedicate towards her health. With more people opting for ready to eat foods which are not always the healthiest option and a decrease in the amount of physical activity, women today are more prone to being overweight or obese. High BMI and fat content in the body increases the risk of heart disease. Another underrated factor that could be contributing to an increase in heart disease in women is the increasing rates of depression. Depression affects a person's ability to function normally. Untreated depression over a period of time creates an imbalance in the production of hormones in the body which can leave a lasting impact on the health of the individual, including poor immunity and decreased heart function.
A combination of the above factors has resulted in the increasing incidence of heart disease in women. In order to combat this, it is important for women to keep a check on their heart health at an early age. Increased awareness and a societal effort to reduce the risk factors for heart disease is the need of the hour.
Prevention of heart disease in women
Women must be supported enough so that they are able to follow a healthy and balanced lifestyle and give enough time to their own physical and mental health. A woman requires specific diet plans at different ages to fulfill their nutritional requirements. By and large, a diet rich in whole grains, sufficient amount of fruits and vegetables, enough protein and Omega 3 fatty acids are important to keep the body and heart healthy. Additionally, exercising regularly - activities such as regular walks, jogging, swimming, Zumba and other sports, strengthens the heart, promotes blood flow, reduces blood pressure and increases oxygen levels in the body.
As a woman ages, it is especially important that she focuses on enough exercise to keep the body strong and healthy. Women with a family history of heart disease must take extra care and precaution to protect their heart health. Regular screening and tests to monitor the heart health are important to keep a check on any potential health concerns and to stop them before they progress.
(Dr. S. Venkatesh, Lead Consultant - Interventional Cardiology, Aster RV Hospital)
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