Mother’s Day: Women tend to ignore their health at the expense of family’s well-being and their careers. After menopause, women are at equal risk of vascular diseases like Heart Attack and Stroke as men; this is because the protective effect of Estrogen wears off around that time.
On the occasion of Mother’s Day, Dr Shobha Subramanian-Itolikar, Consultant Physician, Fortis Hospital, Mulund shares with Zee English the 5 silent killers for aged mothers.
The best preventive step is early medical attention, as it can avert major events. Women with family history of Cancer should undergo regular screening for the same. Even mental health should be taken seriously, as women delay seeking professional help because of societal pressures. The onus is on the family members to identify early signs and provide timely help to the women in the family.
Here is a glossary of five diseases that are silent killers in women, and how to detect them early:
Risk factors: Sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy dietary habits, smoking
Symptoms: Chest pain, shortness of Breath, upper abdominal pain
Prevention: Adopt a healthy lifestyle- diet, exercise, adequate sleep, undergo periodic cardiac evaluation after the age of 40.
Risk factors: Genetics, sedentary lifestyle, high carb diet
Symptoms: Increased thirst, hunger & urination, weight loss, itching in private parts, burning micturition
Prevention: Follow a lowcarbohydrate, low fat diet, undertake high intensity exercises, annual screening for diabetes after the age of 40.
Autoimmune Disorders like Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Thyroid disorders
Risk factors: The presence of antibodies in blood against various tissues like joints, Skin, Liver, Lungs, Kidneys, Heart, and Thyroid.
Genetics as well as environmental
Symptoms: Joint pains, swelling and stiffness, rash on face, excessive hair fall, mouth ulcers
Prevention: Consult your doctor at the earliest if such symptoms exist
Cancer of Breast, Ovary, Uterus (Cervix and Endometrium)
Risk factors: Genetics, Environmental
Symptoms: Lump in breast, alteration in menses, abnormal post-menopausal bleeding, urinary complaints
Prevention: Earlymedical attention
Risk factors: Environmental factors mostly
Symptoms: Feeling low, mood swings, social withdrawal, sleep issues, suicidal tendencies
Prevention: Early professional help
Here are some real-life scenarios shared by Dr Shobha Subramanian-Itolikar which she encountered in her clinical practice, wherein timely intervention helped.
‘Anita(60yrs), came to me with recurrent Urinary Tract Infection. An abdominal ultrasound revealed that she was unable to evacuate her urinary bladder completely;the urine was stagnant and hence was prone to infection. Timely referral to a Gynaecologisthelped pick up an early carcinoma of the Cervix and we could nip the Cancer in the bud before it progressed to an advanced life-threatening stage.’
‘Ratna was a retired accountant. She had been experiencing upper abdominal and chest pain for the past 24 hours; she passed it off as acidity. That night she experienced severe excruciating chest pain and was wheeled to our emergency. An urgent angiography revealed a block in one of her Coronary Arteries and timely stenting saved her life. Her questions were –‘Why me? Heart attacks are only for men!!’
‘Pooja (25yrs)with a history of Anaemialost follow-up with me after I advised Thalassemia screening test to evaluate the cause of her low Haemoglobin.The shocker came during her pregnancy when she was in her second trimester (5th month). She found that she was severely anaemic and was detected to have the Thalassemia gene. The matter was complicated by the fact that her spouse was also having Thalassemia Minor, which increased the odds of the unborn baby suffering from Thalassemia Major. An amniotic fluid assay confirmed our worst fears. After genetic counselling she underwent termination of pregnancy in the 6th month. Sitting in front of me 7 months later, was an aggrieved lady who had almost entered the brink of motherhood but alas! She was emotionally unhealthy, fragile, vulnerable, still reeling from the trauma of having lost her baby.’
“These instances and many more have shown how women tend to ignore the signs and symptoms that their bodies are showing. While in certain instances they come just at the right time, in others cases their health problem have progressed,” concludes Dr Shobha.