Cardiovascular diseases are a major health problem among women and remain under-recognized and under-treated, said a statement by Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO regional director for South-East Asia.
Risk factors for heart disease in women mirror those in men and include lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, obesity, harmful alcohol use and physical inactivity, as well as physiological risk factors such as elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes mellitus.
Additionally, in the South-East Asia region, exposure to household air pollution from using solid fuels for cooking substantially increases the risk of heart disease in women.
In the WHO South-East Asia region, cardiovascular diseases cause an estimated 3.7 million deaths annually, one fourth of all deaths.
The majority of premature deaths due to cardiovascular disease can be prevented through simple measures such as consuming a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding tobacco and alcohol and by managing stress, the statement said.
"The WHO has set a target for reducing premature mortality from cardiovascular disease and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25 percent by 2025 and has developed a regional action plan to achieve this target," said Khetrapal.