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Watch out for these early warning signs of heart disease in young women | Health


Earlier this month, Bollywood actor Sushmita Sen had undergone a heart surgery after a “massive heart attack” that was caused by a 95% blockage in one of her main arteries and according to health experts, younger women are more vulnerable to artery blockages due to a lethal mix of smoking and the increased prevalence of diabetes and obesity. They are of the opinion that younger women are increasingly and habitually smoking, especially in urban areas where stress and strain trigger the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which cause artery inflammation, the development of atherosclerotic plaque and the creation of thrombus or blood clots hence, unstable angina, heart attacks and unexpected cardiac arrest can result from these.

Watch out for these early warning signs of heart disease in young women (Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash)
Watch out for these early warning signs of heart disease in young women (Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Unsplash)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Abhay Somani, Consultant Cardiologist at Ruby Hall Clinic, shared, “Young women can be suffering from certain other conditions like thematic heart disease, particularly mitral stenosis in our country. Congenital defects like ASD can also go unnoticed unless you evaluate them. The symptoms of heart disease in young women may include chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea or vomiting, upper body discomfort, dizziness or lightheadedness, or discomfort in other areas of the body such as the arms, neck, back, or jaw. However, it is important to note that some women may not experience any symptoms, which is why it’s crucial to maintain regular check-ups and talk to your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.”

He revealed, “Common adverse factors like diabetes, hypertension, and smoking, as well as an increase in female dyslipidemia, can lead to acute coronary syndrome. I think the incidence of coronary artery disease increases in postmenopausal women and goes equal to that of the incidence in men with aging because estrogen, which is a protective hormone, gets too low with age. In severe cases of coronary hypertension, pregnancy is contraindicated and can lead to sudden cardiac death in the child as well as in the mother. There has been an increase in the incidence of smoking and addiction in young females, which can lead to acute coronary syndromes as a risk.”

Talking about the three primary signs of angina and how can it be treated, Dr Ajit Menon, Interventional Cardiologist at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, explained, “Angina, or angina pectoris as it is called in medical parlance, is basically a chest pain or discomfort that is caused by reduced blood supply to the heart muscle, and angina is a symptom of coronary disease. There are various ways this symptom can manifest; one of them can be as a squeezing pressure or a heaviness in the chest. This can also manifest as severe pain in the chest. This pain can radiate to either of the shoulders or either of the arms; it can radiate to the jaw; and sometimes it can radiate down into the upper part of the abdomen also. This pain can also radiate to the back. Now, typically, this pain occurs with exertion.”

He highlighted, “The moment you start walking or you walk a certain distance or you climb up maybe a floor or so, these symptoms start appearing, like a tightness in the chest or a chest pain or discomfort or an uneasiness in the chest, and typically when you stop exercising, you stop whatever you’re doing, the discomfort or the pain completely disappears. There are various manifestations of this: when it occurs only with exertion and remains stable over a period of time Does not worsen. The same symptoms happen at the same level of exertion. This is called stable angina. If the same symptoms start occurring at rest, that means the same symptoms start occurring when you are doing nothing or sitting, or typically happen after you eat food, the symptoms start coming up, or if it happens while you’re sleeping at night.”

According to the health expert, these symptoms are called unstable angina and if untreated, can progress to a heart attack. He pointed out, “Once angina is treated, if it doesn’t settle down, it is called ‘refractory angina’. So there’s no one symptom that can define angina by itself; it’s the multiple ways it can present, and typically, these are usually mistaken for acidity by a lot of patients. So if you have any symptoms such as chest discomfort, tightness in the chest, squeezing in the chest, or chest pain that comes on with exertion, or if these symptoms in the chest radiate to either of the arms or the shoulders or to the jaw and especially come on with exertion relieved by rest, this is typically angina or chest pain.”

Insisting that you need to get medical attention if these symptoms are recurrent or if you feel that this is something unusual that you have never experienced before, Dr Ajit Menon concluded, “Again, the treatment of the other symptoms can also sometimes cause chest burning. Some people also complained of unusual fatigue, which is another symptom; some people complained of pure nausea with exertion; and some people complained of breathlessness with exertion, which can be what is called an angina equivalent. So, especially those who are diabetic, may not have the typical symptoms of angina. They should walk to watch out for other symptoms, which I’ve just explained. These symptoms are often difficult to catch even otherwise, and they are typically picked up only on routine examinations like a treadmill test, a 2-D echo, or a CT angiography, which pick up blockages in these patients.”


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