Coronary heart disease (CHD) is a condition wherein the arteries supplying blood to the heart get constricted, leading to angina pectoris (chest pains) and myocardial infarction (heart attacks). Constriction of the arteries is brought about by fatty deposits on the waal sof the arteries.
CHD is the most common cause of mortality in developed countries including the UK, the US, Canada and Australia. According to the statistics from the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, 42.7 million American women had cardiovascular disease (CVD) in 2005. 7.3 million of these cases were due to CHD, including heart attack and angina pectoris. According to the European Heart Network, CVD is the main cause of women’s deaths all European countries. 22% of total deaths among European women were due to CHD.
It used to be that young women are not your usual candidate for CHD. Female hormones afford premenopausal women protection against heart disease. However, there is a trend of CHD increase among women below 50.
Researchers in the UK looked at CHD mortality rates in England and Wales between 1931 and 2005. They found that the rates peaked in the 1970s and then declined and is still declining. However, this decline seems to be slowing down and reaching a plateau, with the tendency of reversing among women aged 50 years and below. This trend is also observed in many developed countries including Australia and the US.
According to the researchers, the following trends in the lifestyle of young people 45 years old and below are probably contributing to the CVD risk factors:
- Obesity has been on the rise for more than 10 years.
- The same trend has been observed for type 2 diabetes.
- There has been a slight decrease in physical activity levels in this age group during the last 15 years.
- The incidence of smoking has always been high and remains so. About 25% of men and 20% of women under 45 are smokers.
Other disturbing statistics from the European Heart Network are:
- Smoking has been declining in many European countries but the rate of decline is now slowing.
- Women are now smoking nearly as much as men in many European countries and girls often
- smoke more than boys.
- Dietary patterns across Europe – once very different – are now converging. Diets are generally improving in Northern and Western European countries but deteriorating in Southern, Central and Eastern European countries.
- Levels of physical inactivity are high in many European countries.
- Levels of obesity are increasing across Europe in both adults and children.
- Over 48 million adults in Europe and 23 million adults in the EU have diabetes and the
- prevalence is increasing.
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