Women more susceptible to heart diseases

September 30, 2019

Sabitri Dhakal, The Himalayan Times, September 30, 2019

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in Nepal. On an average, of the 100,000 Nepalis, around 158.35 died annually due to coronary heart disease.

Nepal ranked 41st in the global league table of the rate at which the disease killed people, according to World Life Expectancy survey. Rheumatic Heart Disease claimed 1,860 lives accounting 1.14 per cent of total deaths as per the index. On an average, 8.8 of the 100,000 people died due to rheumatic heart disease. The survey was based on 50 prominent ailments and accidents that claimed lives of people in 183 countries.

Studies also revealed that heart disease was comparatively higher in women. According to a research conducted by Nepal Health Research Council with support from the Ministry of Health and Population, prevalence of possible, probable and definite coronary artery disease was comparatively higher in women (3.2 per cent) than in men (2.4 per cent).

People residing in urban areas were more vulnerable to the disease.

According to the World Life Expectancy index, coronary heart diseases claimed 30,559 lives in 2017, accounting for 18. 72 per cent of total deaths caused by various diseases and accidents. Coronary artery disease is the narrowing or blockage of coronary arteries because of buildup of cholesterol and fatty deposits on the inner walls of arteries. When arteries are blocked the blood can’t pass through them. It then results in the death of muscles commonly called ‘heart attack’, said Uttam Krishna Shrestha, executive director at Manmohan Cardiothoracic Vascular and Transplant Centre.

“Women are more susceptible to conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. They are more exposed to smoke and pollution in comparison to men as they work in fields and cook in firewood. Anxiety, stress, emotional nature of women and lack of nutrition are other causes for heart diseases in women,” said Rabindra Pandey, public health expert.

Compared to men, women hardly underwent routine health check-up. They didn’t visit health centres until their health condition deteriorated, said Pandey.

Post menopausal hormonal change in women was another cause of heart ailments in women. Women aged above 50 were more susceptible to heart diseases. Lack of physical activities, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and junk food intake were also some of the causes for heart problems in both the men and women, according to Meghanath Dhimal, chief research officer at the Nepal Health Research Council. Number of patients suffering from heart diseases has drastically gone up in the recent years. About 300 took place in 2009 at Manmohan Cardiothoracic Vascular and Transplant Centre. The number of heart surgeries at the centre has doubled over a decade. The centre performs about 600 surgeries annually now.

Factors like diabetes, family history of heart disease, hypertension, lack of physical activity, and consumption of tobacco and alcohol have been identified as major risk factors for the rise of heart diseases in the country.

The NHRC findings revealed that people living in urban areas such as in Province 3 (3 pc) and Gandaki province (3.6 pc) were susceptible to coronary artery diseases. Prevalence of possible, probable and definite coronary disease was also seen in Sudurpaschim Province (3.6 pc). Regular screening, physical exercise for at least half an hour a day or three hours on a week, low intake of salt and sugar and food, refraining from smoking were some of the preventive measures to save one’s heart, said experts.