Thursday, February 23, 2012

Heartburn...or Heart Attack??

Ok ladies, time to get a little serious. As you all may (or may not) know, February is American Heart Month, and it just seems like the perfect time to talk about women and heart disease, and with that, heart attacks.

Yesterday, USA Today published a huge article about women and how they are less likely to get appropriate care sooner for a heart attack then men. Find the article here. As the article states, women have a 15% mortality (or death rate) in the hospital compared to 10% of men. Why? Because women are less likely to get early treatment, mostly because our symptoms may be "atypical", or not the "common" symptoms of  heart attack, like chest pain, shortness of breath or cold sweats. Moreso, even when we DO have these classic symptoms, we are STILL less likely to be treated early on, as in men.

What are these symptoms that many women, and their doctors play off as nothing, or anxiety? Mainly, nausea, extreme fatigue (like cannot clean or vacuum a room suddenly without becoming faint or short of breath), pain in the back or in the jaw. Since these symptoms are usually disregarded as "nothing", these women tend to die MORE, because they are not seeking medical care soon enough, or not at all.

This article goes on to say how we, as doctors, and healthcare community as a whole, are doing an extremely poor job of educating women on their risk for heart disease and stroke.  Every woman is terrified of getting breast cancer (rightfully so!), but women have a 1 in 3 risk of dying of heart disease whereas only 1 in 25 women die of breast cancer.

Me!...at the American Heart Association
"Go Red forWomen" breakfast in Miami.
How can you help yourself? I'll write it again...KNOW YOUR NUMBERS!! ALL women should know their cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. The American Heart Association has a fantastic tool on their website that is a "Heart Attack Risk Assessment". I suggest everyone take a look at this tool to know your risk!

In an upcoming blog I will actually talk about what heart attacks and strokes are, and why they can be lethal. Most people say "heart attack" and "stroke", but really have no idea what they are, or the different types.

PLEASE PLEASE spread the word about today's blog. You never know, you may just save a life!

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