Cardiologists have urged women to pay better attention to some risk factors that put them more at risk for heart diseases.
According to the heart care experts, age, pregnancy, diabetes, and hormonal changes, put women at high risk of developing cardiovascular diseases than men.
The heart care experts noted that smoking, stress, obesity, also make women more prone to heart diseases.
The experts, a consultant cardiologist at the Nisa Premier Hospital, Abuja, Dr. Shwarji Damar and Dr. Olajumoke Surakatu at the cardiology department at the General Hospital Marina, Lagos; explained that hormonal changes that occur in the body predispose the heart to different heart diseases and complications.
According to Dr. Damar, there are certain conditions during pregnancy that can equally lead to cardiovascular diseases in women.
In his words,
“There is what we call pregnancy-induced hypertension that can lead to preeclampsia; this is a condition that stresses the heart during pregnancy.
“Sometimes, after delivery, women can develop dilated cardiomyopathy which is some form of enlargement of the heart due to all the stress the high blood pressure has caused on the heart.
“If the dilated cardiomyopathy is not well treated after delivery, it can persist and lead to a chronic heart condition and can also lead to the woman having high blood pressure for the rest of her life.”
The cardiologist also noted that menopause is a risk factor for having a high risk of CVDs in women.
“In women, there are certain hormones that protect women at certain ages, especially during the reproductive age – estrogen and progesterone. They are responsible for pregnancy and maintenance of pregnancy. Those hormones protect women from having CVDs.
“However, when they get to certain ages and the levels of the hormones begin to decrease in their body, that’s where you begin to see an increase in the incidents of CVDs in women more than men. So menopause plays a role,”
Dr. Damar said.
Also, speaking, Dr. Surakatu added that hormonal changes that occur in the body predispose the heart to different heart diseases and complications. The expert said,
“When women are pregnant, they release certain hormones which are estrogen and progesterone hormones that cause a lot of changes and affect the thermodynamic function of the body.
“There are links between pregnancy complications and heart diseases in women. There are so many hormonal changes that occur in the body that predisposes the heart to different heart diseases and complications.
“For example, a pregnancy complication such as postpartum haemorrhage or antepartum haemorrhage, known as bleeding, can cause the woman to lose so much blood and anything that can cause blood shortage in the body can affect the heart and can lead to CVDs.
“Estrogen and progesterone hormones are very vital hormones that are needed in the body and these hormones help to prevent heart diseases, cancers, arthritis and so many other diseases in women but when women become post-menopausal, they are at risk of developing all these diseases which are very common in post-menopausal women.”
She added that women who have diabetes are more likely to develop heart diseases than men. The physician said:
“Women can get diabetes through pregnancy, which is gestational diabetes. The woman didn’t have diabetes before she was pregnant which makes them more open to heart diseases than men.
“Women who smoke cigarettes are also at high risk of developing CVDs because cigarettes release toxins into the body and these toxins are dangerous. They affect the heart and cause different types of CVDs.”
According to the World Health Organisation, CVDs are the leading cause of death globally as an estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2019, representing 32 per cent of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85 percent were due to heart attack and stroke.
WHO noted that over three-quarters of CVD deaths take place in low- and middle-income countries.
“Out of the 17 million premature deaths (under the age of 70) due to non-communicable diseases in 2019, 38 per cent were caused by CVDs.
“Most cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by addressing behavioural risk factors such as tobacco use, unhealthy diet and obesity, physical inactivity, and harmful use of alcohol.
“It is important to detect cardiovascular diseases as early as possible so that management with counselling and medicines can begin,”