#WomensDay: Healthy Heart tips for women

Dr. Santoshkumar Dora, Senior Cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute explains the uncommon symptoms and causes of heart attack among women.

Women at a higher risk of heart disease post menopause

Our heart works continuously for us, without taking any breaks. Therefore, a healthy lifestyle comprising of a good diet and regular exercise is vital for a healthy heart.

While chest pain and breathlessness are common symptoms of a cardiac disorder, other symptoms are palpitation, giddiness, syncope, undue fatigue with minimal exertion, swelling in the legs. The common symptom like chest pain during the heart attack may sometimes be absent in women. In women, the heart attack may sometimes present as excessive sweating, jaw pain, vomiting, and pain in the epigastric region.

The symptoms and causes of heart diseases in women are atypical. It is also the leading cause of death because of multiple reasons. This International Women’s Day, let us become more aware of the causes of cardiovascular diseases in women.

The standard risk factors for coronary disease are diabetes, hypertension, smoking, dyslipidemia, family history of heart disease, and obesity.  These risk factors are common to women as well as men.

Cardiac risk factors unique to women are:

1) Early menopause: Women who experience menopause at an age younger than 44 are more at risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

As menopause approaches, they become more intolerant towards carbohydrates and white sugar. There is a loss of female hormonal protective effect on the heart after menopause.

Tip: Eat healthy, for the instance replace white sugar and white rice with brown sugar and brown rice. Exercise regularly.

2) Gestational diabetes: Those who have developed diabetes during pregnancy and got better have a higher risk of having high blood sugar in subsequent years. This leads to adverse effects on the heart.

Tip: Regular exercise and a healthy diet

3) Pregnancy-induced hypertension: High blood pressure during pregnancy also increases the risk of hypertension in the future.

Tip: Weight loss to maintain optimal weight, Avoid excess salt

4) Polycystic ovarian syndrome: The syndrome affects the hormone levels in a woman- there are higher than normal amounts of male hormones. So the protective effect of female hormones on the heart is lost. There is an increased incidence of diabetes too in this condition.

Tip: Check blood pressure and cholesterol regularly and maintain a healthy weight by replacing the intake of saturated with unsaturated sources like nuts, olive oil along with daily brisk walks.

For all individuals, heart patients or not, it is essential that you follow a healthy diet, undergo a dynamic exercise regime regularly as well as annual health check-ups

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