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Times of India
29 September 2011
By , Hetal Vyas
Bangalore , India

Three months ago, when a 37–year–old techie was wheeled into a city hospital for a bypass surgery, it perhaps reflected that age was no more the criterion and that today’s woman was surely ignoring her health.
Traditionally, while smoking, drinking and work–related stress has led to chronic heart problems among men, increase in habit of smoking, stress, fast food coupled with sedentary lifestyle is making women, especially urban working women, diabetic. And this leads to weakening their heart.

Changing Lifestyle Puts Women’s Heart at Risk
According to WHO (World Health Organisation), three women died every minute in 2008 due to cardiovascular disease. Various informal studies conducted by cardio vascular diseases experts say that urban women are two to three times more prone to heart problem, thanks to their lifestyle.

“More women in their late thirties, forties and early fifties are complaining of cardiac diseases. It was a different scene five years ago when women in their early sixties were more prone to heart diseases,” says Dr Rehan Syed, consultant cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon with Fortis Hospital.

The city’s women are surely not exercising enough leading to obesity and the resultant diabetes. “The problems compound and one leads to another – high cholesterol, hypertension etc.

All these factors increase blood sugar and lead to endothelial dysfunction, which causes blockage in arteries,” says Ravindranath Reddy, consultant cardiologist, BGS Global Hospital.

Shockingly, doctors are also seeing a new pattern in heart problems. Early menopause or artificial menopause (by removal of uterus and ovaries) can increase risk of heart attack. “Earlier, a woman would attain menopause in her late fifties, but today a woman in her early 40s attains menopause. Also pills consumed for postponing menses cycle and hormone pills are leading to heart problems. These factors have made urban women more prone to cardio vascular problems,” says Dr C Manjunath, director, Sri Jayadeva Cardiovascular Sciences and Research.

The rural woman, on the other hand, is more relaxed as she does more exercise. Says Dr S S Iyengar, HOD and consultant cardiologist at Manipal Hospital: “Compared to women in urban areas, the women of rural areas have less stressed life. Also they exercise a lot. This keeps cholesterol and blood sugar in control.’’

For Instance
Prema Shastri, 51, is a former basketball player and a Bharatanatyam dancer. Life was going smooth till she was active in sports and dancing, but things changed fast for her after she stopped playing basketball and dancing due to arthritis. She developed high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Three months back she complained of profuse sweating and giddiness and suffered a moderate heart attack. She was admitted to a city hospital, where an angiogram showed that three of her arteries had blockage of 40%, 60%and 100%. Doctors performed angioplasty with a stent. She was discharged from hospital after two days and has been asked to increase her physical activities.

Who Says
According to WHO, nearly 65% of all diabetics die from coronary heart disease. For the record, there are at least 20 million diabetics in India
For men over 40, the lifetime risk of cardio–vascular disease is one in three. For women, it is one in two
One fifth of the deaths in India are from coronary heart disease. But by 2020, it will account for one–third and majority of them will be youngsters
Coronary artery heart disease is the number one cause of death in India for both men and women

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