NEWS

Lifestyle changes can decrease rate of risk

«In developed countries, half the deaths among women over 50 are due to cardiovascular disease, compared with the risk of breast cancer, which affects one woman in 30,» says Toutouzas. The factors that contribute to heart disease are known. Diabetes, even in pre-menopausal women, doubles the risk of a heart attack. Smoking and a sedentary lifestyle have the same effect. Smoking combined with the use of contraceptive pills increases the risk twentyfold, while obesity increases the risk of a heart attack sixfold. Toutouzas emphasizes that these problems appear in women 10 years later than they do in men due to the beneficial effect of estrogen. «Women have a 10-year advantage over men when it comes to cardiovascular disease.» Heart attacks hit men at 50-70 and women at 70-80. But it still depends on women themselves. Heart attacks could become rarer and women’s average life expectancy could rise from 81, which it is today, to 85-90, and with good quality of life. Are heart attacks more serious for women? Indeed they are; the effects and the complications are more serious. The first heart attack is usually fatal. Heart attacks leave twice as many women disabled as men. Women who survive one episode are more likely to suffer another. What advice do you have for women on World Heart Day? The old idea that a woman should remain slim until she gets married then can put on 15 kilos as long as she feeds her husband is wrong in many respects. Nowadays women don’t have the excuse of having five or six children as they did in the past. We’d like women to have more children, but as a part of a healthy lifestyle which enables them to retain their elegance. That means a waist measurement of less than 80 centimeters and never more than 87, at which point the risk of having a heart attack rises dramatically. How can women achieve that? Daily exercise, such as vigorous walking and a healthy diet to maintain their natural weight, will greatly enhance their chances of avoiding high blood pressure and cholesterol levels after the age of 50, and diabetes, which is so common in obese women of 60-70, and which causes masses of other problems. I won’t even talk about smoking, that incomprehensible habit which is a plague to humanity, or those women who insist on supporting the tobacco industry.