Doctor reveals why heart attacks are commonly seen in women

Updated on Apr 11, 2022 07:51 PM IST

Generally, it is assumed that heart attacks and myocardial infarction is men's problem. Are you aware, a large number of women also suffer from heart attacks? Here's why

Doctor reveals why heart attacks are commonly seen in women (Twitter/DrImranSheikh)
Doctor reveals why heart attacks are commonly seen in women (Twitter/DrImranSheikh)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow, which brings oxygen to the heart muscle, is reduced or obstructed due to the blocking or severely narrowing of the arteries that supply the heart and the known signs of a cardiac arrest may include chest pain, breathlessness, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, upper body pain or dizziness. A majority of heart patients, including both men and women, would have chest pain during a stroke but health experts have revealed that in women, we do see non-typical symptoms of heart attack which could be shortness of breath, vomiting or nausea and just sweating or pain which is not in the centre of the chest but may be on the left side or in the hands.

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Bipeenchandra Bhamre, Consultant Cardiac Surgeon at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai, shared, “Generally, it is assumed that heart attacks and myocardial infarction is men's problem. Are you aware a large number of women also suffer from heart attacks? Woman try to avoid getting checked for the fact that “I am a woman and won’t get heart attack”. Heart problems are not just limited to men. Now, even women tend to suffer from heart attacks and they have become a common occurrence.”

He highlighted that women tend to come with advanced disease mainly because of the ignorance of heart problems and their prognosis is poor, leading to high risk of mortality and morbidity. He said, “In modern society the stress levels on woman are more like they have to work in office, at the same time they have to take care of their families - this is double stress. While keeping work and family in balance, women suffer physically as well as psychologically. Moreover, the protective hormone in woman viz estrogen disappears after menopause.”

He listed a few reasons why heart attacks are commonly seen in women. These include:

· Various studies have confirmed that after menopause, women experience similar risk of heart disease as compared to men owing to the low levels of the female hormone estrogen during menopause.

· Moreover, factors such as race, increasing age, and a family history of heart disease cannot be changed and invite a heart attack.

· Smoking can raise heart attacks or stroke in women just like it does in men.

· Hypertension can be another worrisome risk factor. Yes, you have heard it right! It is a silent disease and if not treated at the right time, it will make the heart work harder, harden the arteries (atherosclerosis) and increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and even kidney failure. Pregnancy may trigger high blood pressure, and it will go away after childbirth. This is called pregnancy-induced hypertension. High cholesterol levels raise one’s risk of heart disease.

· Obesity is associated with heart disease, especially among women. Diabetes is more common in overweight, less physically active women and can lead to a heart attack.

· Many women tend to encounter a heart symptom. They try to ignore symptoms for various reasons. mainly the symptoms of the heart are burning sensation in their upper abdomen, chest pain, left shoulder or back pain after walking. There will be light-headedness, an upset stomach, and sweating. They may not have that typical symptom chest pain and can neglect the other symptoms dismissing them as acidity.

The take-away is that many risk factors that contribute to heart attacks can be controlled. Quitting smoking, losing weight, exercising, managing cholesterol and blood pressure, controlling diabetes and reducing stress can help women and men both to keep heart attacks at bay. A woman should remember to take care of herself too along with the family.

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