Dr. Ratna Magotra
Women continue to be a neglected group worldwide when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease. It remains a challenge in India as women traditionally take a secondary role paying little attention to cardiac symptoms such as indigestion in most cases. Risk factors are the same as in men like obesity, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and poor lipid profile. Smoking, not uncommon in rural populations with an upswing in metros, especially in young women, is a significant risk factor in men.
The average age at which women usually get heart attacks is 10 years more than the age at which men get heart attacks, i.e., after going through menopause. They are, therefore, exposed to risk factors and comorbidities for a longer period.
Additional risk factors include oral contraceptive pills and hormone replacement therapy. In the Indian context, women had a higher risk for rheumatic heart disease too. Dr. Padmavati had reported a high incidence of women developing cor-pulmonale due to inhalation of smoke from fossil fuel.
Awareness and more research on heart disease in women in India are indicated.