Thursday, 10 May 2007

Damn the Narrow Arteries

It just aint fair that women have narrower arteries than men, as it puts them at
higher risk of CAD - Coronary Artery Disease and makes diagnosis difficult as well.

According to Prevention magazine:

Recognise the Symptoms

All heart attacks begin with a sudden, crushing pain only on TV. Actually, many
attacks start slowly as mild pain or discomfort. A full blown attack feels like
someone is sitting on your chest. In the case of women, the symptoms (chest, stomach
and jaw pain, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness and fatigue) are often muted. Why?
Answers Manchanda, “Possibly because the arteries are smaller to begin
with.” Add to that a condition named endothelial dysfunction — common
among women. Here, the lining of the artery doesn’t expand to properly boost
blood flow when it should be boosted.

Know your Numbers

» Ask your doctor to check your blood pressure, cholesterol (total, HDL, LDL,
triglycerides) and blood sugar. (It does unnerve me that i know the meaning of all
these terms - long live hypochondria)

» Doctors now suggest that you tack on one more measurement to your regular
cholesterol test: for lipoprotein, a protein strand thats attached to bad
cholesterol molecules. Researchers from the Framingham Heart Study, Massachusetts,
tested these levels in more than 3,000 women and found that participants with
lipoprotein above 30 mg/dl in their blood doubled their risk of heart disease.

Rate Your Risk

In addition to abnormal cholesterol, you're more likely to develop heart
disease if you have these as a part of your life:

» Smoking Ups the odds at least two to four times

» Diabetes Raises your risk four to six times

» Blood Pressure higher than 135/85

» Obesity Raises the risk of other conditions as well—high BP, high
cholesterol and diabetes. (GULP...)

» Premature Menopause Either naturally or through surgical removal of ovaries.

» Sedentary Lifestyle (UMMM...)

» Chronic Stress

» Heredity

» Gum Disease has a strong connection with heart disease. Often, bacteria from the
gums enter the arteries and cause inflammation. Good oral hygiene and a dental
check-up every six months are great preventives.

» Elevated C-Reactive Protein is produced by the liver in reaction to injury or
inflammation. Research correlates high levels of CRP with an increased risk of heart
attacks. Elevated levels of CRP could mean that the arteries are inflamed.
Inflammation can cause rupture of plaque. More than 3.0mg/dl is considered high
risk. (ERMM...)

Get Moving

» Be physically active. Start by doing as many household chores as you can. Urban
surveys show that 51 to 75% of Indian women report low levels of physical activity.
Aim for 30 minutes of walk/excercise at least 5 days a week. Take the stairs instead
of the elevator.

» A Harvard University study showed that women who walked at 5 kmph or faster at
least 3 hours a week reduced their risk of heart disease by 40%.

» Instead of watching TV sitting down, combine it with an activity like ironing
clothes or walking on the treadmill.

Eat Right

» Wholewheat bread, brown rice, lentils, fish, poultry and lean meat are good for
your heart. A low-fat diet works for most women, but women with a low HDL level can
actually increase their risk of heart disease by cutting back on all fats.

» Eat breakfast every day.

» Snack every two hours, not on oily aloo bhujia and chips but on nuts or fruits.

» Switch to a lighter cooking oil like olive or canola oil. Yes, they are pricey,
but both your heart and wallet will love the fact that you are using less oil than
before anyway. Olive oil raises good HDL.

Stay Light

» Its not just about looking great, BMI is important. Body Mass Index is a
measure of body fat calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of
your height in metres.

» A BMI of under 24 is ideal for women.

» To calculate your BMI log on to or prevention.


» Chronic stress raises the level of homocysteine, an amino acid that increases the
risk of heart disease.

» You may not be able to cut stress totally, but try reducing it through yoga and
meditation. Pranayams and savasana are good stress-busters.

» American cardiologist Arthur Agaston says you can lower your homocysteine levels
with a daily dose of 400 microgram (mcg) of folic acid from foods like spinach
and beans.

Picture of the Day
A brilliant Skyscape
(Reminds me of arteries too in a way)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

going through the "heart attack" phase huh? me too..ive been imagining this slight doscomfiture in my chest lately...seriously condiering getting some tests done...ahhhh...i feel this sud..dd..den...pain....aahh aaaa