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Heart disease prevention tips for women

A study at the Indiana University School of Public Healthshowed that women can prevent heart disease if they followed the six golden rules. However, it is not a well-known fact that women are actually more prone to dying of heart disease than men.

Heart disease is actually the number one killer of women, causing death to one in three women. Women who suffer the first heart attack run a greater risk of losing their lives as compared to men. Even if they survive, they are more vulnerable to suffer a second stroke, said Amar Singhal, senior cardiologist at Balaji Action Medical Institute.

Women often overlook symptoms and discomfort pertaining to heart diseases, and rarely consult an expert. Even if they opt for consultation, compliance rate is comparatively poor among them, he added.

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Aakriti Gupta, an Indian-origin researcher at the Yale School of Medicine, found that women have longer hospital stays and are more likely than men to die in the hospital after a heart attack. Younger women are a vulnerable yet understudied group with worse cardiac risk profiles and worse outcomes after a heart attack as compared with younger men, Gupta contended.

In the study, Gupta and her team analysed 230,684 hospitalisations for heart attack in patients age 30 to 54 in a national database from 2001 to 2010. The study found that heart attack hospitalisation rates for patients under age 55 have not declined as quickly as they have for Medicare-age patients, which have seen a 20 percent drop. (Read:Why are women more prone to heart disease?)

Men were more likely to have high cholesterol while women, especially black women, were more likely to also have hypertension, diabetes and heart failure. This shows that we need to raise awareness of the importance of controlling cardiovascular risk factors like diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking in younger patients, Gupta said.

The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Apart from juggling a million things, modern women are also likelier to ignore their symptoms if any. They also have lesser time for physical activity and are suffering from hormonal issues which increases their risk for heart disease further.

Crushing pain in the chest and shortness of breath are the typical tell-tale signs of a heart attack. But the symptoms are what usually men experience. Women are at a higher risk for mortality from heart attack than men because they do not recognise the signs of a heart attack and therefore neglect it.

Both men and women may have classic heart attack symptoms such as chest pain and pressure radiating to the arms, shoulders, and neck, and shortness of breath. Stress and exertion make the symptoms worse.

Dr. MadhuSreedharan, Cardiologist and Director of NIMS Heart Foundation, Trivandrum, explains that certain other atypical symptoms of heart attack are more common in women. Don t neglect these symptoms. When you have a heart attack, every minute is crucial. The earlier you get treated, the better your chances of complete recovery, says Dr. Sreedharan.

According to Harvard Health, the following are the top heart attack symptoms in women:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Cold sweat
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Arms feeling heavy or weak

Women may also experience a burning sensation in their abdomen, or feel lightheaded. The typical pain in the left side of the chest may be conspicuously absent.

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