It is a common misconception that women are less susceptible to cardiovascular diseases than men. Nothing could be further from the truth. Studies have clearly substantiated women are at an equal if not greater risk than men, to heart related ailments. An estimated 42 million American women currently are afflicted with cardiovascular disease, but lot of them are blissfully ignorant about the impending menace. There is an urgent need to raise the awareness levels of heart diseases in women and corrective measures need to be implemented to bridge the disparity in women heart care.
Some alarming facts
Every year in US, cardiovascular diseases consume more lives than breast and lung cancer put together.
Fatality rate in women is much greater than in men and a high percentage of women succumbs to this illness within 1 year of a heart attack.
African American women are at a higher risk than their Caucasian counterparts.
Diabetes is a major risk factor that can precipitate a heart attack. It has been seen that women with diabetes are at a twofold higher risk of acquiring a heart disease.
There is a wide disparity in men and women heart care which is clearly illustrated by the fact that women comprise only 27% of participants in all heart related studies.
Experts believe that the above mentioned facts only represent the tip of the iceberg and generally the awareness levels of heart disease among women are abysmal. Even female doctors or medical professionals have a sketchy understanding about the actual threat and ramifications of this disease.
As per a WHO statistics the instances of cardiovascular disease in women have increased by a mindboggling 300% over the last 5 years. With hazards of a modern lifestyle taking a heavy toll, women who have to regularly swap between domestic and professional duties, is under considerable duress that makes them more vulnerable. Generally women who regularly smoke and drink, those who have high blood pressure and diabetes and those in post-menopausal stage constitute the major high risk groups. Cardiovascular diseases are the third highest killer of women all over the world accounting for nearly nine million lives every year.
In fact recent cases have clearly established that women are at a more risk of acquiring a broken heart condition – a temporary condition brought upon by extreme physical and mental trauma , which is most prevalent in younger age group women.
Debunking Some Popular Myths…
There are numerous and widespread false notions that have actually enabled the disease to reach menacing proportions. There is a common belief that normal cholesterol levels and blood pressure will preclude a heart attack. However, it has been found that other concomitant factors like diabetes and family history plays an equally crucial role.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that hormones like estrogen and progesterone can stave off heart attacks, so young women need not worry. However changing lifestyle has negated the efficacy of these hormones. If a woman heavily smokes and drinks the hormone’s beneficial effects get stymied thereby heightening the risk. Consequently heart attacks are quite common in younger women and they are very often fatal.
Health disorders like preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are actual risk factors for heart disease later on in life.
One of the major reasons why women heart care is overlooked is because women very often do not exhibit the classical symptoms of a heart attack- like crushing chest pain or pain shooting down the left arm. That is why very often atypical symptoms like gastrointestinal disorder, pain in the shoulder, jaw or upper back are very often misdiagnosed and wrongly not correlated with an impending coronary attack.
The precautions however remain simple and easy to implement – exercise, stress management and cutting down on nicotine and alcohol.