There has been a massive surge in the cases of heart attack and other cardiac ailments in women in recent times. An increased level of stress in women who juggle both office duties and household chores is one of the reasons they are falling prey to chronic diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and heart illnesses. Especially as the women approach menopausal stage around 40 years of age the risk further goes up as it is also the time when cholesterol levels, BP and blood sugar levels go haywire. So far it was believed that men are more at risk of heart attack but it looks like, this may change in future. (Also read: 7 everyday habits to prevent heart attack)
OVERLOAD OF WORK KILLING WOMEN?
“There are several factors that have rendered women as a vulnerable class to coronary diseases and cardiac arrests. Due to the lifestyle changes and the working pattern of women as they manage both household and their official-chores – it results into an increased level of stress in women. In this fabric of assuming several roles, their health becomes one of their last priorities. This raises the risks of hypertension, diabetes, and heart diseases,” says Dr Dhiren S Shah, Director and consultant, Cardiothoracic and vascular Surgery department, Director Heart and Lung Transplant Program, Director Mechanical Circulatory Support program – Care Institute of Medical Science (CIMS), Ahmedabad Gujarat.
DOES SOMETHING CHANGE AFTER 40 YEARS?
Menopause is one of the leading causes of death in women over 40 as due to the hormonal imbalance there are many physical and mental symptoms that occur and not being able to control these health issues could increase risk of morbidity in women.
“For women above 40 years of age, the approach towards menopausal stage also elevates the risks. Certain additional health markers which are sadly neglected are high cholesterol, that increases the risk of heart attack in both men and women. Other medical conditions include obesity, and autoimmune disorders that are more likely to create a precedent for a heart attack,” says Dr Shah.
SYMPTOMS OF HEART TROUBLE IN WOMEN
Dr Shah says coronary artery disease is a leading cause for a heart attack and one of the significant symptoms of heart attack in both men and women is chest pain. “Apart from chest pain, there are other symptoms such as indigestion, shortness of breath, and back pain, sometimes even in the absence of obvious chest discomfort. These symptoms could also extend to less typical ones like neck or jaw pain, nausea and fatigue,” says the cardiologist.
THE ROLE OF MENOPAUSE IN HEART ATTACK
For women, estrogen hormones work as a protective shield from heart attack and hence before menopause, the incidence of heart attack in women are less likely to occur.
“Menopause increases the risk for the comorbid issues as well such as diabetes and cholesterol and ultimately these conditions have a crucial role behind heart attack. Due to hereditary factor, sometimes women are at an increased risk of heart attack or heat disease even in younger age bracket. Also, women do have very small size arteries which is the reason for inferior outcomes in fairer sex in comparison to males,” says Dr Shah.