Thursday, 29 September 2016

Can women get heart disease before pre- menopause?

Can women get heart disease before pre- menopause? New Delhi, September 28, 2016: Older women have been at a higher risk end for developing cardiovascular diseases. It is reported that more than 75 percent of women aged 40 to 60 have one or more risk factors for CVD. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over age 40, especially after menopause. Up until now the notion had been that menopause is the only phase during a woman’s life cycle during which she is prone to increased risk of CVD, but now the idea is being challenged by increasing incidences of coronary heart diseases in pre- menopausal women. Recently, evidence has emerged that even the pre- menopause phase in a woman’s life cycle is prone to developing cardiovascular complications because of exacerbated risk factors.
Complex hormonal and physiological changes take place during the transitory phase to menopause, the perimenopause. Estrogen and progesterone imbalance starts to set in, body fat starts getting redistributed, there are global changes in cholesterol levels and blood pressure starts to show a rise before menopause hits. It is seen that the risk factors associated with stroke and CVD increase more rapidly in the years leading up to menopause rather than afterwards. This is a result of a variety of physiological changes collectively known as the metabolic syndrome. The risk factors that together constitute the metabolic syndrome are a large waistline, high levels of blood fat (triglycerides), low levels of good cholesterol, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar
These changes are associated risk factors for CVD and if left unchecked, have the potential to develop into serious cardiovascular complications. This paradigm shift in the ‘at-risk’ population for heart disease is due to modern lifestyle. In today’s age of technology and modernization, there are a plethora of comforts available, but the cost of every comfort is some or the other form of compromised health.
According to a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, the major risk factors associated with modern lifestyle are smoking, high body mass index, a sedentary lifestyle, alcohol consumption and an unhealthy diet
“Lifestyle-related factors that increase the risk of heart disease are becoming increasingly common among girls, teenagers, and young adults. Physical activity drops sharply as girls approach teenage years and is significantly reduced by young-adulthood. Higher or lower than normal body mass index is an important determining factor for the course of cardiac complications in high risk individuals. The good news is that these hormonal and physiological changes during the pre-menopause period are reversible or in some cases, modifiable. Appropriate lifestyle changes can be incorporated to minimize the risk of developing heart disease during this period, ”said Padma Shri Awardee Dr KK Aggarwal – President Heart Care Foundation of India & National President Elect IMA.
“The notion that young adult women need not worry about heart health until they are ‘old enough’, needs to be abolished. Women approaching menopause need to be more proactive about following a heart-healthy lifestyle in order to minimize the effect of these associated risk factors. Your lifestyle is not only your best defense against cardiovascular diseases, it's also your responsibility towards yourself and your loved ones”, Dr KK Aggarwal added.
Follow these tips to reduce the toxic burden of these risk factors:
• Avoid active and passive smoking and alcohol, they are the most prominent risk factors associated with CVD. • Include about 80-160 minutes of exercise per week, may it be light workout or vigorous cardio routines. Simple exercises like dancing, walking, swimming and cycling are also sufficient if done regularly. • Follow a healthy balanced diet comprised of generous amounts of green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains. • Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can also help ward off heart disease, eat plenty of fish products for this purpose. • Keep stress at bay and laugh out loud in your daily life, not just the social media. • Reduce salt intake, it will lower the chances of developing hypertension which can translate into CHD. • Manage pre- exiting medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension etc. • Avoid foods with added sugars and preservatives. • Get screened regularly for cholesterol and lipid profile. • Maintain a healthy blood pressure and body mass index

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