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Identifying the Factors That Pose Risks to Women's Heart Health

Heart disease stands as a prominent cause of mortality in both men and women. The initiation of this condition may commence in childhood, progress inconspicuously over time, and culminate in an unexpected and frequently fatal heart attack. It is ill-advised to wait for symptoms to surface before embracing proven measures to reduce risks. Cardiovascular disease affects both genders almost equally on an annual basis. Many women might not be aware that heart disease poses a substantial risk to them.

Recognizing symptoms in women can be complex, diverging from those typically seen in men and often resulting in a delayed diagnosis of heart disease. Conventional signs include chest pain, breathing issues, dizziness, and swelling in the extremities. However, women may present with unconventional symptoms such as profound fatigue, jaw pain, palpitations, cold sweats, heavy arms, and anxiety. This divergence in symptomatology contributes to the challenge in early identification, leading to diagnoses at later stages of the disease.

Clinicians and healthcare providers must be vigilant in considering a broader range of symptoms when assessing women's heart health to ensure timely intervention and effective management of cardiovascular conditions. Increased awareness and understanding of these atypical indicators are crucial for improving women's cardiac health outcomes.

Several risk factors play a role in the development of heart disease. In women over 65, elevated blood lipid levels, particularly low HDL and high triglycerides post-menopause, increase the risk. Diabetes further compounds this risk, with affected women often having additional factors like obesity, hypertension, and high cholesterol. The presence of metabolic syndrome, characterized by a cluster of health risks, also amplifies the chances of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, especially in younger individuals.

Additionally, even passive smoking is linked to an increased probability of heart attacks in women. Recognizing and addressing these diverse risk factors is crucial in developing comprehensive strategies for heart disease prevention and management in women.

Recognizing Hypertension as a Key Contributor to Heart Risk

Furthermore, broken heart syndrome, a transient condition triggered by stressful situations, exhibits a higher incidence in women than men. Taking charge of specific factors can significantly mitigate the risk of heart disease. Abstaining from smoking, engaging in regular physical activity, adopting a heart-healthy diet, managing stress, and addressing depression are pivotal preventive measures.

Concrete prevention targets for heart disease involve maintaining a body mass index within the range of 18.5 to 24.9, a waist circumference below 35 inches, blood sugar control with an HbA1c level below 7%, blood pressure at 120/80 mmHg, total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL, triglycerides below 150 mg/dL, LDL cholesterol below 100 mg/dL, and HDL cholesterol above 50 mg/dL. It is imperative to recognize that proactive efforts in these areas can significantly contribute to reducing the prevalence and impact of heart disease in both men and women.

(By Dr. D. Sitaram, Consultant Cardiologist, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad)

Sources -Times Of India



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