WOMEN AND THE HEART…WHAT LURKS BENEATH? – Dr. Binoy John
Nonetheless, there is no reason for the ladies to be too worried! In spite of all the horrors I have described above, there is no need for despair or being disheartened. There is always the good old proverb to bank on: “prevention is better than cure” paired with vigilance and periodic consultations with the physician. There is truly nothing that can beat lifestyle modifications with regular physical exercise and a healthy diet. 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week in the least is the key to a healthy heart and a healthy life. A diet elaborate in fruits and vegetables (4.5 or more cups per day), fibre (30g per day), whole-grains (3 servings per day), sugar (5 or less servings (1 tablespoon) per week), nuts (4 servings or more per week), saturated fat (constituting less than 7% of the total energy intake), cholesterol (less than 150 mg per day) and sodium (less than 1500 mg or 1 teaspoon per day) are recommended. Women are also advised to take 7 oz of oily fish per week. Smoking can be done in dreams but in reality is an emphatic NO, to the extent of avoiding even passive environmental tobacco smoke.
Thus an active lifestyle with a healthy diet would solve most of the hazards, but my instructions would be incomplete if I did not touch on the much enticing hormone-replacement therapy or the administration of oestrogen pills. With the advent of menopause, when the bodily oestrogen levels dwindle, all studies have shown that the cardioprotective effects of endogenous oestrogen are not mimicked by consuming oestrogen pills and therefore none of the guidelines recommend hormone-replacement therapy for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.
So, in her life, unlike a male, a woman endures a plethora of changes in her body from menarche, pregnancy, and lactation to menopause and what not, encompasses with even more lashings, in the challenging roles of a wife, a mother, a home-maker and many more. So it is only fathomable that whatever stresses that lurk beneath her heart or health, is what evolves her and nourishes her with the strength to be the pillar to her family and the essence of our society.
I dedicate this article with a salute,on the international women’s day, to all the daughters and mothers of the society: the women that make the world!
Dr. Binoy John
MD DM (Cardiology)
Director & Head:
Dept. of cardiology, interventional cardiology, advanced heart sciences & cardiac transplant medicine MIOT International, Chennai
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