Women are more at risk of heart attack than men, this is the reason

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New Delhi. Long thought to affect only men, ‘heart attacks’ are now more common in women, say health experts. But, often its symptoms are not visible, due to which the treatment is delayed and many types of problems also come to the fore.

A study presented at the European Society of Cardiology’s (ESC) Scientific Conference Heart Failure-2023 has shown that women are more than twice as likely to die after a heart attack as compared to men. even though they receive treatment within the same time frame as their male counterparts.

Dr Varun Bansal, Senior Consultant, Cardiology and Cardio Thoracic Surgery, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, told IANS, “It is a common misconception that heart disease mainly affects men. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women worldwide. However, the symptoms of heart disease can differ by gender, leading to differences in recognition, diagnosis, and treatment.”

Several studies have shown that women often experience different symptoms of a heart attack than men. Men typically display more classic symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain or discomfort, while women may experience atypical symptoms or different warning signs. These may include shortness of breath, tiredness, nausea, back or jaw pain, and dizziness.

“Since these symptoms are not always associated with heart disease, women tend to delay seeking medical help, leading to a dangerous stage of the disease by the time it is diagnosed,” Dr Bansal said.

Dr. Pradeep Kumar Nayak, Senior Consultant Cardiology, Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, said, “Recognizing the physiological and hormonal characteristics of women and men is essential to understand the different risks they face when it comes to heart disease and stroke. The disparity can lead to underdiagnosis and delayed treatment, which can lead to complications.”

Another study published in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association, showed that women have a 20 percent increased risk of heart failure or death within five years after their first heart attack, compared to men.

In addition, women are more likely than men to be older and have a more complex medical history at the time of their heart attack.

Dr Bansal said that women are generally more likely to develop heart disease after menopause, when the protective effect of estrogen wanes.

She added, “Estrogen has been shown to have beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, including promoting healthy blood vessel function and reducing inflammation. After menopause, women may experience changes in their bodies and an increase in cardiovascular risk.”

Factors that have contributed to this disease in men and compared to the past include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), pregnancy-related complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, subclinical depression, additional stress of work and domestic responsibilities.

Dr. Nayak said, “To address these issues, it is important to raise awareness, promote early detection and implement targeted prevention strategies that are specifically designed for women. By empowering women to take control of their heart health, they can make a significant difference in reducing the risks they face.”

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