Women above the age of 45 must get this test done!


Heart disease is believed to primarily affect men, but its impact is equally significant in women, although it often manifests differently in both.


Heart disease is thought to primarily affect men, but its impact is equally significant in women, although often differently. In India, the prevalence of heart disease in women ranges from 3% to 13% and has increased by almost 300 percent in the last two decades. Recent studies show that the prevalence of heart failure in Indian women has doubled from 2000 to 2015.

With these alarming statistics, it is important to acknowledge these gender-specific differences, especially in conditions like atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). ASCVD refers to the narrowing and hardening of the arteries due to plaque build-up, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Dr. Preeti Gupta, Associate Professor at Safdarjung Hospital, Delhi, emphasized the importance of early cholesterol testing for women as they often do not have symptoms. She said that women should start getting their cholesterol checked from the age of 45. In my practice, I have found that about 25% of women have elevated LDL-C levels and it plays a major role in ASCVD. Many women are unaware of their elevated cholesterol levels. Current lifestyle and hormonal fluctuations can increase cholesterol levels. If not taken care of timely, it increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases like ASCVD. Regular screening and lipid profile scans can help identify risk factors early and provide timely intervention. Apart from this, personalized prevention plans based on individual women's LDL-C goals also matter. Staying informed and being proactive is important to maintaining good heart health.

Impact of ASCVD in Women

These studies show that ASCVD affects women differently in terms of symptoms, risk factors, and outcomes. Women often develop ASCVD in later life, particularly after menopause, and experience symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, or abdomen. These symptoms are often overlooked or misinterpreted, leading to delays in diagnosis and treatment. While men and women have established common ASCVD risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking, women have additional risks due to pregnancy-related conditions (eg, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia) and hormonal influences (eg, polycystic ovary syndrome, menopause). As women age, the risk of developing ASCVD increases due to decreased levels of hormones such as estrogen due to menopause.

The relationship between ASCVD and cholesterol

ASCVD is a long-term health problem where cholesterol builds up in the arteries. Over time, the arteries become narrowed and hardened as cholesterol plaque builds up. As the plaque continues to build up, it can lead to several serious health problems, such as heart attack and stroke.

Differentiating between good and bad cholesterol

Cholesterol is vital for body function, but an imbalance can also prove harmful. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, often labeled as bad cholesterol, contributes to ASCVD by promoting plaque buildup in the arteries. In contrast, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, known as good cholesterol, helps remove LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream, reducing the risk of arterial plaque formation.

Importance of LDL Cholesterol Levels in Women's Heart Health

LDL cholesterol plays a central role in the development of ASCVD, making it an important focus for women's heart health. Knowing one's LDL cholesterol levels through regular lipid profile testing and cholesterol monitoring is essential for this risk management.

Why is it important to talk to your doctor?

Given the varying risk factors and manifestations of ASCVD in women, a one-size-fits-all treatment approach is inadequate. It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your doctor about your heart health. Discuss your reproductive history, hormonal status, lifestyle, and any genetic predispositions. By working together to determine a personal LDL cholesterol target, you and your doctor can develop a prevention plan tailored to your unique health profile.

Heart health care requires a holistic approach that prioritizes cholesterol management through regular monitoring, personalized care plans, and effective doctor-patient communication. By understanding and managing LDL cholesterol levels, women can take proactive steps to protect their heart health and improve their overall health.