How Does Heart Disease Affect Women?

Star Wars fame Carrie Fisher died on 27th December 2016 after suffering a heart attack; And she is not the only one. While men tend to cope with a stroke, there is a constant increase in the rate of women’s death due to heart diseases. This is mainly because women tend to put off seeking medical help longer than men.

We have shared some important guidelines on how to take suitable preventive measures:

Smoking or even long-term exposure to passive smoking increases the risk of cardiac problems in women. Smoking exposes a person to carbon monoxide that lowers the oxygen level in blood and results in a plaque build-up in the arteries. This may also lead to formation of blood clots, which can block the already narrowed arteries due to plaque formation, and thereby cause a heart-attack.

High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, i.e. the heightened force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries causes extra strain, resulting in severe damage if it continues over time.

High Blood Cholesterol
While high-density lipoprotein (HDL) helps remove cholesterol from your heart arteries, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) carries cholesterol to your tissues. An HDL cholesterol level less than 50 mg/dL and an LDL cholesterol level greater than 100 mg/dL, increases the risk of acquiring a cardiac disease in women.

 In this case, either your body doesn’t make enough insulin or doesn’t utilizes it well to move blood sugar into cells for generating energy. This causes high blood sugar levels which leads to plaque formation in arteries. Diabetes doubles the risk of heart diseases in women as compared to men.

 If the body weight is greater in proportion to the height, it may also predict heart disease risk. This is a major problem observed in Indian women. Women who carry weight around their waist are at a higher risk than women who carry most of the weight on their thighs and hips.

No or Very Less Physical Activity
 Women in India don’t exercise on a regular basis. Inactivity leads to a number of problems mentioned above, like — high blood pressure, high levels of LDL cholesterol, overweight and obesity, diabetes and prediabetes, and hence leads to heart diseases.

Unhealthy Diet
Check for these unhealthy food habits:

- A diet high in saturated and trans fat raises LDL cholesterol levels.

- A diet high in sodium might lead to elevated blood pressure.

- A diet high in sugar can increase blood sugar levels. Moreover, these foods often provide extra calories with very less or no nutrients. This in turn leads to weight gain.

- Excessive alcohol consumption can also lead to high blood pressure and weight gain.

Hypertension and depression can lead to increase in blood pressure and hence trigger the probability of suffering from a heart disease.

Anemia, which means a lower than healthy count of red blood cells and low haemoglobin level, indicates that the blood does not contain enough oxygen and hence the heart is at a great risk.

Sleep Apnea
 This disorder causes shallow breathing or pauses in breathing pattern for a few seconds while one is asleep. These pauses leads to lack of oxygen supply to the blood and results in blood clot. If left untreated, this may cause high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke. Women are more likely to develop this condition post menopause.

Access your own risk factors and for further consultation, visit a cardiologist in Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai or near your location to get expert advice.