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Coronary artery disease

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) in Women

Women of all ages face the threat of coronary artery disease (CAD) commonly referred to as a “heart attack”. Recent data shows the overall prevalence of CAD is 6.2% in males and 10.8% in females. It commonly occurs at a later age in women, mostly in the 60’s while men have it at an earlier age. The female hormone, estrogen is “cardioprotective” and as its level in the body declines at menopause, the risk of CAD becomes higher.  Overall, CAD is a leading cause of death in both men and women.

CAD is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart (called coronary arteries). Plaque is made up of deposits of cholesterol and other substances in the artery. Plaque buildup cause narrowing inside the arteries over time, which could partially or totally block the blood flow and eventually lead to angina or heart attack respectively.

The most common symptom of heart attack is severe central chest pain. One challenge always remains, that symptom in women differs from those in men. They usually have subtle or vague discomfort or pressure over the chest. Sometimes women may not experience chest discomfort but may have pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, lightheadedness or fatigue. Recognizing the signs early and seeking treatment promptly is of utmost importance.

Women generally suffer from obesity, high blood pressure; high cholesterol levels and has higher chances of suffering from CAD. The risk increases manifold with diabetes, smoking, mental stress, physical inactivity and menopause.  Women <65yrs having family history of heart disease needs to pay more attention to these risk factors.

The golden rule to prevent heart disease is quit smoking, exercise regularly, eat healthy diet and maintains healthy body weight. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, wholegrains.Eat less of salt, sugar, saturated fats, cholesterol and trans-fats, processed food. Regular brisk walk for 30-45 min per day for 5 days a week is good enough to stay fit.Regular check-ups are key in picking up heart problems at early stage. All healthy adults> 20 yrs should get their blood pressure checked once every two years, blood cholesterol levels checked once every 4-6 years,blood sugar levels checked once every 3 years.

To conclude CAD is no more a male disease, it equally affects female, in a more subtle form, with atypical manifestation, which tends to get ignored. Hence, recognizing symptoms early and seeking health support is of paramount importance. Regular exercise and eating healthy diet helps in maintaining healthy body weight eventually leading to decrease in heart problems.

Consult Dr. Arun Kumar Gupta, expert cardiologist in Gurgaon at the CK Birla Hospital for Women to seek medical support and advice. Book an appointment today!

 
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