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Lifestyle modifications can prevent more than 80 per cent of cardiac events in women
On the occasion of Women's Day, awareness needs to be raised about the need for women to recognize the risks of heart disease and take necessary precautions. In the past decade, heart ailments have emerged to be the number one killer of Indian women accounting for around 15 per cent of the global disease burden.
A common misconception that exists is that heart diseases mostly occur in men. However, in reality, death rates among women due to heart diseases are up to 2.5 times more than in men. This can be attributed to the difference in the way heart disease manifests in women as opposed to men.

Women typically suffer from heart disease at an average of 10 years later than their male counterparts. However, heart attacks in women are more severe and often go unrecognized due to the vagueness of their symptoms including neck, jaw, throat, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort; shortness of breath; pain in one or both arms; nausea and vomiting; lightheadedness or dizziness and unusual fatigue.

The reason why heart disease symptoms in women are more subtle than the obvious crushing chest pain often associated with heart attacks is that women tend to have blockages not only in their primary arteries but also in the smaller arteries that supply blood to the heart.

Speaking on this Dr. Manoj Kumar, Associate Director & Head - Cardiac Cath Lab, Max Super Specialty Hospital, Patparganj in a statement said, "Women in the 21st century are also more susceptible to early heart disease given their high stress and sedentary lifestyles characterized by a poor diet as well as dependence on smoking and drinking. In the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of female smokers in the country. In fact, India is now home to the second largest number of women smokers globally. Young women who smoke are and are on birth control pills are 20 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease than those who are not.Thus, there can be no better occasion than Women's Day educate women on the importance of taking necessary precautions against heart disease and making healthy lifestyle choices from the very beginning."

Dr. Amit Bhushan Sharma, Senior Consultant Cardiologist, Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon in a statement said,"Women are known for their ability to juggle between household chores, taking care of their family, and their professional commitments. However, these put them through an enormous amount of stress and force them to make unhealthy lifestyle choices. Women who smoke, drink, eat an unhealthy diet and barely exercise are at high risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, dyslipidemia and diabetes in the future. Alternate stress management practices such as deep breathing, meditation and yoga are beneficial. Women who are over the age of 55 years, have high LDL levels, have diabetes, smoke, suffer from hypertension or have a family history of heart disease are at an increased risk of getting a heart attack and should be dispensed aspirin on a regular basis. On the occasion of Women's Day, awareness needs to be raised about how more than 80 per cent of cardiac events in women can be prevented by modifying one's diet, exercising regularly and abstinence from smoking."

In a majority of the women, the symptoms of heart disease become more evident after the onset of menopause. Thus, post menopause women should be extra cautious and should get regular check-ups to ensure good heart health.

Tips for a healthy heart:

  • Physical activities - Exercising for at least 30 minutes every day is a must. Swimming, dancing, yoga, and Zumba are some recommended activities that women can indulge in. Being physically active can reduce a woman's risk of heart disease by around 45 per cent.

  • Refraining from tobacco consumption - Intake of tobacco in any form is harmful. Statistics show that cigarette smoking alone doubles the risk of heart disease. One can chew gums, eat celery sticks, and mint leaves to cope with tobacco cravings.

  • Consuming a balanced and heart-healthy diet devoid of trans fatty acids, dietary cholesterol and saturated fats is key. A healthy diet comprises of ample green and leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, beans, dietary fiber, nuts, and fish.

  • Stress management techniques - Relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, breathing exercises can play a significant role in preventing the incidence of heart ailments disease.

  • Adequate sleep - Sleeping for at least six to eight hours a day is necessary to keep one's blood pressure under check and for overall heart health.

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