Women and Silent Heart Attack

We generally feel that men are more prone to heart attacks. Think again to think so! Recently statistics show that  women are nearly as much at risk of heart diseases and fatal attacks as men.

There could be many reasons for this - complaints in women often go undiagnosed until it is too late for effective treatment.

Studies show that heart diseases kills six times as many women than breast cancer. Also the number of women affected by heart disease is growing with changing lifestyles. Women today cope with increasing pressures. Coronary Artery disease (CAD) is mostly seen in post-menopausal women. Diabetic women get affected even at younger age.

What is CAD? 

CAD is a condition where cholesterol deposits at the lining of the coronary arteries that supply to the heart. This narrows arteries and obstructs blood flow to the heart. The blocked artery thus causes a heart attack.

Interventional cardiologists opine that unknown to many people, heart disease is the number one killer of women and often acts differently than the way it affects men. Risk factors include diabetes, hypertension, hyper lipidemia,smoking,obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Family history also plays a role. During heart attacks women experience nausea, vomiting,indigestion, shortness of breadth or extreme fatigue- but surprisingly many times no chest pain.

Unfortunately these symptoms are easy to attribute to something other than the heart. Women are also more likely than men to have 'silent heart attacks' - an attack without any acute symptoms, that are diagnosed only later when subsequent cardiac symptoms are re-evaluated  and tests are performed.

Before menopause, the estrogen hormone plays a vital role in protecting and maintaining adequate levels of 'good' high-density lipoprotein(HDL) cholesterol, which inturn protects the body's overall cardio vascular health.

Estrogen also works to relax the smooth muscle of arteries helping to maintain normal blood pressure and prevent some forms of blood vessel damage.

There are many factors that can contribute in increasing risks of heart diseases in post-menopausal women - diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are the main culprits. Other factors include stressful lifestyle, women with a family of the disease, ones who do not indulge in any physical activity and those who use birth control pills indiscriminately. 

What should we do?

Dietary changes, weight loss, lipid lowering medications, quitting smoking, and under taking regular exercise are important lifestyle measures. Heart attacks in women often strike without any warning, so make sure we go for regular health checks.

Prevention is better way to deal with health conditions.