7, March 2010
An all–India health survey shows that Mumbai’s women have high levels of LDL or bad cholesterol that is considered a risk factor for heart diseases. In fact, the survey showed that one in three women over the age of 40 years had worrisome levels of LDL.
Medical archives have, down the ages, stressed that women get natural protection from heart diseases due to their hormonal monthly cycle. “Until recently, it was observed that the incidence of heart disease among women in the childbearing age was eight times than in men in the same age group. Their risk increased as soon as they reached menopause. In fact, by the time they reached 60 years, they were as much at risk as men their age,” said leading cardiologist Dr A B Mehta.
But this trend no longer holds true, added Dr Mehta, who is the director of cardiology at Jaslok Hospital on Peddar Road. Heart diseases are now emerging in younger women.
Consider the Saffolalife survey which measured the cholesterol levels of 8,000–plus Indians. It showed that over 40% of the women surveyed in Mumbai had LDL levels of over 130. Among Mumbai’s women who are over 50 years of age, over 55% had skewed cholesterol levels. Over 30% women surveyed in Bangalore had LDL levels of over 130 after the age of 40.
Says Dr Mehta, “Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see women with family history of heart disease, those with diseases such as diabetes or high stress levels have higher incidence of cardiac artery disease.”
The real problem vis–a–vis women is that they are more prone than men to write off angina as muscular problem. “If a man gets chest discomfort, he will immediately go to the doctor, but this is not the case with women. And it is high time this changes,” warns Dr Mehta. He recommends that Indian women should undergo regular health checks for heart disease as soon as they reach 45 years of age.