Heart diseases are not just a man’s problem

“Women also succumb to this silent killer, a condition further exacerbated by a sedentary culture and processed food”

New Delhi, January 23, 2018While heart disease has almost always been considered a man’s problem, statistics from the last two decades indicate otherwise. There has been a steady rise in the incidence of heart problems in women, especially those in the reproductive age. As per a recent study, women who start menstruating at 11 years or before, or those who entered menopause before the age of 47 were at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

A low level of estrogen due to changing lifestyles and other co-morbid conditions is among the key reasons for younger women developing cardiovascular diseases in India. Other risk factors that can exacerbate the condition include a higher prevalence of diabetes, obesity and related ailments, and physical inactivity, and these have only worsened the problem.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India (HCFI) and Immediate Past National President Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “The warning signs of heart problems in women are different from those seen in men. For example, women do not have the characteristic chest pain but may have a jaw pain. This is one of the reasons why women do not get diagnosed in time, thus exacerbating the condition further. What is worrying is that women exhibit atypical symptoms that delay diagnosis. Traditionally, heart disease has never been thought to be a woman’s disease. Thus, when a woman complains of symptoms such as breathlessness, it is very often mistaken to be some other problem.”


Among the symptoms in women is atypical angina, in which they could experience discomfort in the shoulders, back, and neck. Apart from this, shortness of breath is often the first and only presenting symptom.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor of IJCP, said, “Awareness must be generated that heart diseases can affect anyone irrespective of age or gender. Only early and corrective lifestyle changes and preventive measures can help in combating the risk factors and avoiding heart diseases. Women should be aware of the signs and symptoms and take adequate care of their health.”

Given all this, it is also essential that each person learns the life-saving technique of hands-only CPR10.The hands only CPR 10 mantra is a simple procedure that can help revive a sudden cardiac arrest patient within the first ten minutes of his or her death. Within 10 minutes of death (earlier the better), for a minimum of 10 minutes (the longer the better), compress the center of the chest of the deceased person continuously and effectively with a speed of 10×10 = 100 per minute. Chest compression should be stopped only when the person starts breathing or the ambulance arrives.

Apart from this, some tips to avert the risk of heart diseases are as follows.

  • Avoid smoking or quit the habit altogether.
  • Aim at getting 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise at least 5 days a wee
  • Eat a heart-healthy diet rich in fibre. Avoid saturated fat in any form.
  • Manage stress through meditation and activities such as yoga.


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