Women at higher risk of heart diseases as early symptoms difficult to detect: Physicians body

Women at higher risk of heart diseases as early symptoms difficult to detect: Physicians body

Mumbai | Women in India are at a higher risk of having cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) as early symptoms like angina are difficult to detect due to uncommon symptoms, which can pose a challenge in diagnosis, said an association of physicians on Wednesday.

Indians experience cardiovascular diseases a decade earlier than those in Western countries, which makes it necessary to address the early age of onset and rapid disease progression in a timely manner, noted Association of Physicians of India (API) president Dr Milind Y Nadkar here.

"Women are more likely than men to display uncommon symptoms like jaw or neck pain, exhaustion and non-chest discomfort, which can pose a challenge in diagnosis. This may result in doctors offering symptomatic relief solutions without addressing underlying angina causes, which is further heightened when patients deny the existence of their symptoms," Nadkar said at a press conference.

CVDs are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and the leading cause of death globally.

India ranks second worldwide when it comes to cardiovascular disease-related mortality, and CVDs account for 20.3 per cent and 16.9 per cent of annual mortality across men and women in the country, respectively, according to data.

"Obesity is also a strong angina risk factor, especially in women. People living with diabetes also tend to report more extensive coronary disease, if unaddressed," said Nadkar.

While incidence of angina (a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart) in women is lesser than in men, it is on the rise due to lifestyles and demographic patterns, he pointed out.

Indians have a 20-50 per cent higher coronary artery disease (CAD) mortality rate than any other population. Also, CAD-related mortality and disability rates have doubled over the last 30 years in India, according to API, the apex professional body of consultant physicians in the country.

"People frequently display atypical angina symptoms, which may lead to missed diagnoses, like shortness of breath, excessive sweating, heartburn, nausea or stable angina, a kind of chest pain that can be triggered by emotional or physical stress or exercise. Women are more likely than men to display uncommon symptoms like jaw or neck pain, exhaustion and non-chest discomfort, which can pose a challenge in diagnosis," emphasised Nadkar.

This may result in doctors offering symptomatic relief solutions without addressing underlying angina causes, which is further heightened when patients deny the existence of their symptoms, said the API president.

"Indians experience CVDs a decade earlier than those in Western countries, which makes it vital to address the early age of onset and rapid disease progression in a timely manner. With India also recording the highest rate of coronary artery disease worldwide, it is essential to bring more awareness about symptoms like angina," he stated.

Abbott India Medical Director Dr Ashwini Pawar, who also addressed the press conference, said, "angina remains an under-diagnosed condition in India. As a result, many do not receive optimal treatment. It's important to address this challenge given the growing burden of CVDs as well as its associated cost to the country at roughly USD 2.17 trillion between 2012 and 2030."

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