Heart Disease in Women

Heart Disease in Women

This topic will cover important and unique issues related to cardiovascular diseases in women. I will simplify it as much as I can. The problem of women’s heart is complex. Feed-backs or follow-up comments are welcome.

Is Heart disease really important for females?

The answer is YES ABSOLUTELY. Diseases of the heart are the leading causes of death and suffering in women. Every 1 in 3 female deaths is caused by heart disease. This amounts to more deaths from heart disease than from stroke, lung cancer and breast cancer combined. About half of these deaths (1 in 6) are caused by coronary artery disease (coronary artery = arteries supplying blood to heart muscles). A 40 years old female has a life time risk of development of cardiovascular disease of about 32%. The life time risk of heart failure is more in females than males, every 1 in 6 women is at risk of developing heart failure, whereas every 1 in 9 males is at risk of developing heart failure. Now I hope the problem of cardiovascular diseases in women is well understood. There is a need to be vigilant about your heart.

Heart disease in women:

Risk factors are the conditions or diseases which increase the chances of having heart disease (you can read more about risk factors under patient information page). The major risk factors of having coronary artery disease in females are same as in males. They are:

  1. Hypertension
  2. Diabetes mellitus
  3. High blood cholesterol
  4. Smoking
  5. Obesity
  6. Family history of coronary artery disease.

There are important differences in the manner in which these risk factors are tackled in women as compared to men.

Hypertension is 15% more common in females than males. Diabetes mellitus is as common in females as in males if not higher. Similarly elevated blood cholesterol in females is as common as in males. Obesity is more common in females than males. The things which are unique to women are that

  1. They are less likely to receive adequate treatment for these risk factors
  2. Guideline recommended treatment is used to a lesser extent in females
  3. Females are more likely to discontinue treatment
  4. They adopt life style modifications like regular walking, less often.

All these factors make females uniquely susceptible to coronary artery disease.

It has been seen that even after a heart attack there is delay in seeking medical attention. The response to treatment of heart attack is also less favourable in females.

In conclusion, the idea of writing this article is to create an awareness that women are equally or sometimes more prone for cardiovascular disease than men. They experience less symptoms which leads to delay in seeking medical attention. Even after medical consultation they are more likely to be undertreated and less likely to comply with medications. So it is high time that medical professionals and patients take notice of these facts and act accordingly

What to do ?

The following measures help to reduce the morbidity and mortality of cardiovascular diseases in women

1. Regular checking of blood sugar for diabetes

2. Regular checking for BP

3. Life style modification like – regular physical exercise, weight control, low salt intake

4. Consult your doctor for any symptoms

5. Regular intake of medicines

Thank you

Dr. Anupam Jena