September 29 is World Heart Day.
This year’s spotlight on preventing cardiovascular disease in women and children. Traditionally, heart disease has always being tied to older men but more and more women and children are being struck by cardiovascular diseases because of an increasingly urbanised lifestyle.
CVDs kill over 8.6 million women each year and this figure is more than women succumbing to cancer, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria put together. Various studies suggest that younger women have higher death rates than men due to heart attacks because they don’t exhibit the regular symptoms usually associated with the disease.
Some common symptoms of heart attacks in women are:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the centre of your chest. These pains are infrequent and come and go.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
Even children are becoming more vulnerable to heart disease due to the aforementioned urbanised lifestyle. An unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and tobacco consumption (including second hand smoke) all play a part. WHO estimates that by 2020, CVDs will be the largest cause of disability and death in India. Currently there are 41 million suffering from diabetes, 118 million suffering from hypertension and if current trends continue the figures will rise to 70 and 213 million respectively by 2025.