When Smita Jadhav, a 37-year-old teacher at a Mumbai polytechnic, felt a burning sensation in her chest, she put it down to acidity, stress associated with her recent promotion at work and erratic meal timings. But when the uneasiness continued late into the night, she met her family doctor. “Have an ice-cream and tell me how you feel,” the doctor told Smita, after giving her an injection. When the uneasiness did not subside after 20 minutes, the doctor advised that Smita be taken to a hospital. There, an ECG revealed she’d had a minor heart attack. Smita was admitted to an ICU and discharged after 11 days of treatment.
Meanwhile, a close relative, concerned by the fact that Smita’s 33-year-old younger sister had passed away a year earlier following a sudden heart attack, recommended that she consult the IPC Heart Care Centre in Mumbai. IPC specialists recommended lifestyle changes for Smita: yoga, a diet plan and regular walking.
Though the sisters had a family history of diabetes and heart disease, both of them had been so young when they had heart attacks that such women would seem like exceptions to the rule, feels Dr Pratiksha G. Gandhi, preventive cardiologist and chairperson of IPC Heart Care. “But in the past two years, out of an average 50 to 60 heart patients I meet daily, 40 percent are women. A few years ago women made up barely 15 percent. These women come from every social class—rich or poor, they are equally at risk.”
Had Smita’s condition been detected earlier, the attack could have been avoided. Lifestyle modifications such as a low-fat diet, regular exercise, yoga and meditation, along with periodic check-ups including treadmill tests and a lipid profile could prevent almost 80 percent of heart attacks. Yet women face many disadvantages.
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