World Heart Day: "In India, cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women"
"It's an alarming situation as heart attacks appear differently in women than men and it is more fatal in the post menopausal women than it is in men"
In the latest health report released by diagnostic chain SRL Diagnostics, it has been revealed that 50 percent of Indian women "live with abnormal cholesterol levels."
Higher cholesterol levels often lead to thickening or even blocking of arteries, which can ultimately result in heart attacks and angina.
Cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of Indian women
The survey also made some other shocking revelations:
- About 48 percent of women aged between 40 and 60 years had high levels of abnormal lipid profiles
- Women in the North with 33.11 percent and East with 35.67 percent had high levels of fat (triglycerides)
- Women in the South with 34.15 percent and West with 31.90 percent has high levels of cholesterol
Dr. Avinash Phadke, president, Technology and mentor (Clinical Pathology) from SRL Diagnostics told the daily, "The burden of cardiovascular disease in India has been growing steadily over the past few decades. Most women worry about breast cancer, but more women die from heart attacks than from cancer."
"In India cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women. It's an alarming situation as heart attacks appear differently in women than men and it is more fatal in the post menopausal women than it is in men. We should all work together to spread awareness in the society about this fact," he added.
Statistics shared by World Health Organization reveal that each year close to 17.5 million people suffer from cardiac ailments.
However, experts suggest that with a carefully regimented lifestyle change this number can be brought down.
We spoke to Dr Pramod Kumar, director and HOD, Cardiology, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi, who shared a few quick tips on how to care for the heart.
What it means to have a healthy heart
- A healthy heart beats anywhere between 70 to 80 beats per minute.
- Heart rates increase in response to the body needing more oxygen or nutrients.
- Fainting, dizziness and shortness of breath is indicative that the heart rate might be very low, for heart pumping may be affected.
Symptoms of a heart attack
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Upper body discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Feeling unusually tired for no reason
- Nausea (feeling sick to the stomach) and vomiting
- Light-headedness or sudden dizziness
Dr Kumar also adds that sometimes people mistake acidity for a heart attack. But there are distinguished differences between the two. "Heartburn is often confused with a heart attack. Acids in stomach rising into the oesophagus and can cause chest pain at times radiating it to your neck, throat or jaw can be mistaken for heart attack," she explains adding that with a few lifestyle modifictions all these problems can be brought under control.
Small Changes make powerful differences
- About 30 minutes of physical activity a day can help prevent heart attacks and stroke
- If one stops smoking, the risk for coronary heart disease is reduced to half
- Learn how to swap unhealthy food with healthier alternatives
- Keeping a healthy weight and limiting your salt intake will help to control your blood pressure
- Make sure that your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels are checked regularly and maintained within normal range as these are the biggest indicators of heart disease
- Reducing stress – doing meditation/yoga
Dr Kumar also suggests the foods you must incorporate in order to keep your heart healthy.
- Green vegetables: Green vegetables are high in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and free your body of potentially harmful compounds.
- Fruits: Contain numerous antioxidants, including heart-promoting polyphenols and anthocyanins which may help stave off hardening of the arteries.
- Whole grain/Cereals: Consuming cereals have long been a wonder meal for reducing cholesterol.
- Polyunsaturated oils like mustard, olive oil: Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated fats, which can help reduce both cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Other food: Fish/sea food, blueberries, legumes, flax seeds, dark chocolate and green tea.
Apart from food, one must also include physical exercises for a healthy heart.
"Any form of aerobic exercises including climbing stairs and playing sports, walking, jogging, swimming or biking. Strength and stretching exercises are best for overall stamina and flexibility. And, at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity is required five days a week," points Dr Kumar.
So this World Heart Day, let's pledge to work towards and healthy and happy heart.