- Circulatory diseases, impacting women more than men, relate to the system that circulates blood throughout the body.
- Factors like hormonal differences, pregnancy, lifestyle choices, and genetics increase women’s susceptibility to circulatory diseases.
- Gender-biased healthcare often leads to misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis of circulatory diseases in women.
- Massages, regular exercise, quitting smoking, and a healthy diet can help prevent circulatory diseases in women.
- Women can reduce their risk of circulatory diseases by making healthy lifestyle choices and seeking medical advice for symptoms.
Women hustle and work, trying to manage their homes and careers, juggling multiple responsibilities simultaneously. Yet, your health often takes a back seat in your quest for success. One such health issue we commonly encounter is circulatory disease, affecting more women worldwide. Here’s what you need to know about circulatory diseases, why women are vulnerable, and how to prevent them.
Circulatory diseases, also known as cardiovascular diseases, affect the system of vessels and muscles that move blood throughout the body. The most common type is coronary artery disease when arteries become blocked or narrowed due to plaque buildup. This can lead to chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke, and other serious health complications. Circulatory diseases include high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and other abnormal heart rhythms.
Why Women are Prone to Circulatory Diseases
Women are more likely than men to suffer from circulatory diseases for various reasons. Here are some of them:
1. Hormonal Differences
The hormonal differences between men and women make women more susceptible to circulatory diseases. Estrogen, present in women, helps regulate various bodily functions, such as menstrual cycles. Estrogen also regulates lipid levels in the body.
It has a protective effect on the circulatory system by increasing the flexibility of blood vessels and lower blood pressure. As a woman enters menopause and her estrogen levels drop, the risk of circulatory diseases, such as atherosclerosis, increase.
Pregnancy can tax a woman’s body, making it vulnerable to circulatory diseases. While the body undergoes several changes during pregnancy, the most significant change is the increase in blood volume that the body produces to nurture the growing fetus. The body’s vascular system adjusts to this increase in blood volume by dilating and expanding blood vessels. However, it also makes it easier for blood clots to form, increasing the risk of circulatory diseases.
3. Lifestyle Choices
Women’s lifestyle choices also influence their susceptibility to circulatory diseases. Smoking, unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, and stress increase the risk of circulatory diseases.
Smoking or being regularly exposed to second-hand smoke increases a woman’s likelihood of developing peripheral vascular disease, heart disease, and stroke, among other illnesses. Eating an unhealthy diet high in saturated fats, trans fats, and sugar contributes to atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Not engaging in regular physical activity and being consistently stressed can lead to high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety, all precursors to circulatory diseases.
4. Genetic Factors
Some inherent factors out of a woman’s control make her more susceptible to circulatory diseases. A family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure can increase a woman’s risk of developing these conditions despite adopting a healthy lifestyle.
5. Gender-Biased Healthcare
Women with circulatory diseases often have symptoms that differ from men. However, medical professionals are often trained to recognize male-centric symptoms and miss out on female-specific markers of circulatory diseases. The risk in this lies in the likelihood of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis leading to the progression of the disease.
Preventing Circulatory Diseases
There are various ways to reduce your risk of circulatory diseases. Here are four effective ways.
One way to boost your circulatory health is to get regular massages. Deep tissue massage therapy helps reduce stress and boost circulation by increasing the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your muscles, skin, and organs. This also helps lower blood pressure and ease muscle tension or pain in affected areas.
Regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy circulatory system, as it helps keep the heart healthy and lower cholesterol levels. Aim to get at least 20 minutes of activity daily and focus on cardiovascular exercises like running, biking, swimming, or aerobics.
Smoking is one of the most significant contributors to circulatory diseases in women, so quitting is an important step toward preventing them. If you have difficulty quitting, speak to a doctor or join a support group.
Eating a healthy diet is essential for good circulatory health. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants; lean proteins such as fish; and whole grains help lower cholesterol levels, improve blood flow, reduce inflammation, and keep the heart healthy. Avoid unhealthy foods like processed and fried foods high in saturated fat, trans fats, and sugar.
Taking steps to protect your circulatory health is essential for maintaining overall well-being. You can reduce your risk of developing circulatory diseases by making healthy lifestyle choices, such as quitting smoking and getting massages regularly. However, if you experience any signs or symptoms of circulatory disease, it is best to speak to a doctor immediately.