Know how to prevent heart diseases in women over 40

The news of Haryana BJP leader, actress and former Bigg Boss contestant Sonali Phogat’s death due to a heart attack at the age of 42, has once again turned attention towards rising cardiovascular health issues. What are the reasons why women in 40s can be prone to a heart problem? Come, let’s find out.

As per reports, Sonali Phogat died on August 23 in Goa where she had gone to check out some locations for the shooting of a web series. She is said to have complained of uneasiness in the morning but when her friend and her manager both advised her to go to a hospital, she declined. Soon after, she fell unconscious and was rushed to a hospital at Anjuna, where she was declared “brought dead”, according to police accounts.

In the recent past, we have lost multiple celebrities to heart conditions. To find out why this is happening, Health Shots reached out to Dr Abhijit Joshi, Consultant Cardiologist, Manipal Hospitals, Baner. He says, “Usually, the risk of heart disease remains low unless a woman enters menopause in her 40s.”

heart problems in women
Women over 40 are more prone to heart diseases. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

A study published in the National Library of Medicine states that “the particular concern to India is not only the high burden of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), but also the effects of these diseases on the productive workforce aged 35–65 years. Heart diseases are rising in Asian Indians 5–10 years earlier than in other populations around the world.”

Dr. Joshi compared the heart conditions between men and women and said that after menopause or after 40 years of age, women develop coronary artery diseases at a faster rate than men do at the age of 40. Also, by then, additional conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, begin to affect women.

“The trend is changing, and women are developing the risk of heart disease earlier as compared to men. This is due to early diabetes, obesity, stress, and insufficient physical activity. In some cases, diseases like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) in women increase the risk of heart attack, which men do not have,” explains Dr. Joshi.

pcos connected to heart problems
PCOS can increase the risk of heart diseases in women. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Signs and symptoms of heart problems

According to Dr. Joshi, the following signs should be taken seriously

* Chest pain is the most common sign of heart problems and heart attacks. Although this sign is very common in men, it is possible that these symptoms can be underlying in the case of women and may go unnoticed. They experience symptoms which often get confused with the symptoms of other health conditions, leading to a delay in treatment.

*Jaw pain, stomach issues, and dizziness, are more prominent symptoms of heart attack in women.

* Women in their 40s should track important numbers such as blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, body mass index (BMI), and cholesterol.

Here are some ways to prevent heart diseases in women:

1. If you have high blood pressure or Body Mass Index, you need to make basic improvements to your lifestyle. Change your diet, indulge in regular exercise, get enough sleep, or take timely medication to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, go for regular checkups, and consulting a doctor in case of any health issues.

prevent heart diseases in 40 plus women
A healthy lifestyle is extremely necessary for women post 40! Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

2. “Women should follow a diet rich in fibers and proteins, moderate in carbs and low in fat, which will ensure reversing the blockage in heart arteries,” says Dr. Joshi. One should avoid excess salt and processed foods and instead, opt for healthier alternatives such as fresh fruits and vegetables that have antioxidants and micronutrients.

3. To avert any health condition, women must exercise regularly (even during pregnancy), meditate or pursue a hobby, follow a healthy diet, avoid drinking and smoking and most importantly get regular health check-ups.


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