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Five simple things women can do to take better care of their heart

  • A 38-year follow-up from the Framingham Heart study evaluated the incidence of sudden cardiac death in women compared with men.
  • The study revealed that women had a lower sudden cardiac death (SCD) rate than men at all ages. The risk of sudden death among women with coronary heart disease is one-half that of men with coronary heart disease. A higher fraction of sudden deaths in women occur in the absence of prior overt coronary heart disease (63% vs 44% in men).

Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “At this juncture, it becomes imperative to spread awareness on the fact that it is more difficult to establish the diagnosis of heart disease in women. Women generally present about 10 years later than men and with a greater risk-factor burden.”

He added, “Many cases of heart attack in women go unrecognised, particularly at younger ages or in patients with diabetes. All women with intermediate or higher risk should be evaluated. In case of a sudden cardiac arrest, start CPR 10 and continue till medical help arrives along with external electric shock machine. It may be advisable to opt for virtual autopsy along with blood molecular tests in cases of sudden cardiac death to know chances of similar episode in the family in future.”

Dr Ramakanta Panda, cardiovascular thoracic surgeon and vice chairman, Asian Heart Institute said, “There are two reasons for a sudden death due to heart attack like this. A non-critical block in a major heart artery suddenly ruptures due to extreme stress causing massive heart attack and death- the blockage in it would be non-critical and hence undetected. The patient has a weak heart muscle- this is asymptomatic but the heart suddenly stops because of irregular signal generated from heart muscle -also called cardiomyopathy.”

 Screening for heart disease:

  • If you can walk more than 500 meters in six minutes you do not have significant blockages or if you can walk 2 km or climb two flight of stairs you do not have significant blockages.
  • Never ignore unexplained weakness, tiredness, first onset chest burning or first onset breathlessness after he age of 40.
  • If any member of your family male had heart disease before 55 or female before 65, it amounts to strong family history
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