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Heart disease hits busy working women the hardest. Control your risk factors to stay heart-healthy

Published on:11 January 2020, 19:00pm IST
It's time to tweak your lifestyle habits to ensure a sound heart health. Eliminate these risk factors for heart disease by following these expert tips.
Rajeswari Shetty
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Take steps for a healthy thyroid and overall health, Ladies. Follow these expert tips. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

For modern women in the age group 30-35 years, the task of juggling professional and family responsibilities has never been easy. And, while they take care of all their career and family priorities, they often overlook their own health and well-being.

These women, especially working moms, are usually too busy to take care of their health and in turn may raise their risk for heart disease.

Indians have higher risk of heart disease at a young age compared to other populations. And when compared to men, young Indian women in the age bracket 30-35 years have the worst outcomes.

Unfortuntely, in women approximately 35% of heart attacks are believed to go unnoticed. Here’s what you need to know about the risk factor.

Heart disease isn’t just for men or old people
While it’s a common misconception that heart disease is more common among men, the truth is that both men and women can be at risk.

Heart attack causes nearly one in three deaths in women. As compared to men, women aged 30-35 years are at higher risk of atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds up inside arteries.

Not only this, women in this age group are more likely than men to have chronic stable angina, a serious heart problem. This is because women have smaller coronary vessels than men, which leads to increased heart disease risk and the need of urgent intervention.

Mortality after an acute coronary event is two times higher in women than in men under 50 years of age.

It is commonly known that once women reach menopause, their heart disease risks jump dramatically. But that doesn’t means that heart disease is just for older women. The disease can affect women as young as 30 years.

Also read: Did you know women are at higher risk of heart failure than men? Don’t believe us, just read!

menopause
The heart disease risk is known to increase in women when they reach menopause. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Heart disease symptoms go unrecognised in majority of women
Lack of awareness among young women most often results in ignoring the symptoms of heart disease.

In most cases, women ignore mild to moderate discomfort unless it continues for an extended period of time. In fact, some women wait for a few hours before seeking medical help even when in extreme discomfort.

Young ladies often miss the signs of a heart attack as they think they are too young for heart disease or an event like heart attack.

These days although young women have professional and household responsibilities, they tend to be physically inactive otherwise. Apart from this, they do not take care of their nutritional needs, consume excess of fat and carbohydrates, and do not take enough rest. Hence, they are usually stressed. This aggravates the risk factors that cause heart-related problems.

“The risk factors that cause women in the age group 30-35 years suffer from heart failure are not recognised because they are subtle and less identifiable than men. It’s best to prevent heart disease in first place so that you don’t have to worry about recognising the symptoms. You need to start thinking about prevention now and shouldn’t wait until menopause, because heart attack can occur at a young age too,” says Dr. Anil Potdar, interventional cardiologist,HJ Doshi Ghatkopar Hindusabha Hospital’s & Joy Hospital Mumbai.

Heart health risk factors for Indian women
In India, high blood pressure, obesity, and unhealthy diet are risk factors for heart disease that are specific to women. Poorly controlled diabetes also pose a high risk of heart disease for Indian women.

All these risk factors can occur early in life. But treatment seeking is higher in women over age 40. Heart experts say that far too many Indian women in the age group 30-35 years don’t take their heart health seriously and fail to take steps to prevent it.

It’s time to prioritise your heart health – Start early, take action!
If your heart health is something you take for granted, you need to take it seriously now to prevent heart disease. Your heart health starts with understanding your individual risk factors.

It’s important to know your goals for heart health indicators
First of all, it’s important to know your numbers, understand the risk factors and control them.

Women should be aware about the normal range of cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels. And then match theirs with the normal range to see the actual status of their condition.

You doctor checks these levels and depending on your risk level, helps you with appropriate goal to control these numbers.

Despite a busy schedule, it’s possible for you to cultivate a healthy lifestyle. If you can’t squeeze in gym classes or workout sessions, you can go for lunchtime walks and breaks during the workdays.

Also, yoga, aerobic activities and meditation work great as stress relievers that keep your heart healthy.

Moderate activity, such as brisk walking for 30 to 60 minutes a day will certainly benefit your heart health.

risk factors for heart disease
Meditation just for five minutes daily can help you reap its benefits. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

You need heart-healthy foods to fuel your diet
For working women and busy moms, it’s tough to take care of their nutritional needs when grabbing meals on the run. And most of the times, it’s easier to grab something that’s not necessarily nutritious.

Also read: 5 health benefits of jaggery to keep you hale and hearty this winter

To keep yourself heart healthy, its important to eat a “complete” breakfast that includes fresh fruits, wholesome protein, and fibre-rich foods. One should eat more vegetables, whole grains, legumes and plant-based foods and avoid red meat and processed foods. Having healthy low-fat snacks during the day can benefit your heart too.

Kicking bad habits is extremely important
Busy women know that indulgences such as smoking a cigarette or eating junk food are not healthy, but due to stress and inconvenience, sometimes, they push aside this fact.

It’s hard to kick these bad habits but still one should avoid smoking, limit alcohol and stop eating junk foods as much as possible.

Also read: Live longer and healthier by inculcating these five lifestyle habits

risk factors for heart disease
Ditch greasy foods and opt for healthy ones. GIF courtesy: GIPHY

If you start small lifestyle changes now, you will definitely see a huge improvement in your next medical checkup and notice the difference in your overall health. If you are not aware of risk factors, talk to your doctor and check your risk. And, if possible, keep a track of your health check-ups.

Understanding and controlling your individual risk factors is the key to keep your heart healthy. Making healthy lifestyle changes and routine visits to your doctor is your best defense against heart disease. And remember, the younger you begin, the longer you reap heart health benefits.

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Rajeswari Shetty Rajeswari Shetty

Rajeswari Shetty is the HOD of clinical nutrition and dietetics at S.L Raheja – A Fortis Associate Hospital, Mumbai.