The link between cardiovascular (heart) disease and Covid-19 is an interesting one because it is a double-edged sword. A significant proportion of the population has underlying cardiovascular disease (CVD) or cardiac risk factors, which put them at higher risk of developing more severe symptoms if infected with the novel coronavirus.
Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death among women, regardless of race or ethnicity, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, around the world. It is not a surprising fact that CVD has gripped the female population in its vile clutches, but what is disturbing is that women are still oblivious to this truth and continues to ignore their heart health.
For far too long, many believed that heart ailment was primarily a man's disease. However, this notion is slowly eroding with increased awareness that the global mortality rate among women suffering from CVD is higher than men.
Women often brush off some symptoms of CVD and link them to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, flu, signs of ageing, or simply feeling under the weather. Women's awareness of the risk of coronary artery disease is insufficient.
However, women under the age of 65, especially those with a family history of heart disease, need to pay close attention to heart disease risk factors. Overworking, under-resting, and a higher level of frustration at work or home bring about greater aggression and can take a toll on the quality of life.
On top of it, women are often misdiagnosed when their presenting symptoms differ from those observed in men as medical professionals feel challenged to respond to women's milder symptoms, acting with insufficient guidelines.
It has been established that both females and males are at equal risks of CVD, but the disease functions differently in both genders. Apart from the common risk factors (tobacco, high blood pressure, and elevated blood cholesterol levels), there are other factors which contribute to the risk of CVD in women such as menopause and estrogen loss, birth control pills, psychological stress, obesity, depression, diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
According to research conducted by the University of Calgary, several factors such as lifestyles, diet, environmental, and few other population-specific factors are responsible for the increase of CVD in Bangladesh. Hence, it is crucial for everyone, especially women, to take necessary precautions during the pandemic and try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. People can also control the risk factors of CVD by medicines and therapeutic options.
In a case where a patient is diagnosed with coronary artery disease (CAD), they might be recommended with angioplasty. In angioplasty, stents (which are small mesh tubes) mounted on balloon catheters are inserted through a narrow tube into arteries.
The balloon is inflated at the blockage site and then deflated and retrieved from the artery leaving the expanded stent to open up the constricted section of the artery. This helps the artery to remain smooth and open, ensuring proper blood flow.
There are also USFDA approved drug-eluting stents which help in opening the artery and reducing its chance of narrowing again. They are coated with a medication to keep the artery open and are well-studied for safe use in patients with complications such as diabetes, high bleeding risk or in patients who might have to interrupt medication a month after angioplasty.
Medical care is essential once CVD is diagnosed, with the goals of stabilizing the condition immediately, controlling symptoms over the long-term, and providing a cure. Thus, to decrease the risk of both CVD and Covid-19, women around Bangladesh should follow healthy lifestyles and consult with a doctor whenever symptoms of CVD arises.
Dr Prof Mir Jamal is a Professor & Director of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD).
Disclaimer: "All the information provided in the article are independent views expressed by Dr Prof Mir Jamal, Professor & Director National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) for a general overview and educational purposes only."