The number of women dying of heart disease is staggering.
Why are they dying from heart disease more often than from any other type of medical problems?
More importantly, why aren’t they being diagnosed in the early stages of the disease as often as men are?
We already know that heart disease shows up in women about 10 years later in life.
That’s a big clue if you’re a physician treating an “older” female patient.
Yet, despite our great medical strides, many doctors are missing the correct diagnosis, and many women dying of heart disease because they are stuck on assessing their symptoms as if they were men.
I believe that if women’s heart disease was diagnosed and treated correctly and promptly, they would most likely have the same good outcomes as men do…
Two-thirds of women who have heart attacks never fully recover.
You see, when women develop heart disease, the “patterns” and the symptoms may be much different than for men.
Too often, these differences lead to missed, or incorrect, diagnosis. And that leads to being prescribed the wrong treatment or therapy, and to more women dying of heart disease.
There are three elements of heart disease in women that may interfere with a correct and timely diagnosis:
The “usual” methods of diagnosing heart disease can lead a physician to make an incorrect diagnosis when applied to women.
Heart attacks themselves don’t always follow the norm in women.
➡ For one thing, sometimes women experience no chest discomfort at all.
➡ Women often experience more of a hot or burning sensation, and even tenderness to touch around the back, shoulders, arms or jaw, instead of the classic “chest pain.”
A well-trained Cardiologist or knowledgeable physician would consider the possibility that a woman is experiencing heart-related pain when she describes those symptoms.
However, some physicians are writing off the symptoms as “musculoskeletal pain,” and even as heartburn.
Diagnosing heart disease in women can be more difficult. Some of the tests that work well with men, can point to something other than heart disease in women. More physicians need to be aware of this.
➡ For instance, the results of an electrocardiogram (EKG) during a stress test (such as on a treadmill) given to a woman can often show changes that seem like heart disease but are really something else…
This is a known variable.
➡ A thorough Cardiologist would include an echocardiogram, which uses ultrasound waves to detect changes or complications. But many still don’t.
:arrow: They would probably also order a thallium study. Thallium is a dye, that when injected, can show which areas of the heart (if any) are not getting enough blood and oxygen.
This type of study would not only show if the patient had a previous heart attack (ever hear of a “silent” heart attack?), but also the specific part of the heart where the attack happened.
Now, that’s accuracy.
3) Differences in the types of Coronary Artery Disease (the narrowing of the small blood vessels that nourish the heart with blood and oxygen) in younger women, pre-menopause.
➡ There are 4 different forms of coronary artery disease that are more common in younger women. Even though all of them have “symptoms” the arteries look normal on tests.
Obviously, if the physician trusts the results of the test, he or she will most likely miss the real diagnosis.
And then there’s this:
In addition to all the above, sometimes we women are our own worst enemies.
➡ We have a tendency to dismiss or make light of what could be dangerous symptoms…often ignoring them altogether, until it’s too late. This includes symptoms of heart disease.
This may be because women are more “stoic” than men…But it may also be because they’re tired of being told by some doctors that they are just run down or anxious, and having the wrong medications prescribed.
Either way, you must tell your doctor about ANY new or worrisome symptom that may even remotely seem to have something to do with your heart.
The bottom line is that if you “think” your symptoms may be related to your heart, see a doctor. Here are some specific guidelines:
➡ If you are feeling pain, pressure, burning or squeezing in the chest, jaw, shoulders, back, or arms, that last up to 5 or 10 minutes.
➡ If you experience periods of feeling short of breath that lasts 5-10 minutes with no clear reason or without increased activity.
- If you feel Palpitations (fast, racing, pounding feeling in your heart) with light-headedness or dizziness
- If you experience sudden severe nausea, vomiting or indigestion
- If you experience sudden sweating for no reason
- If you feel sudden, unexplained extreme fatigue
- If you experience loss of consciousness or fainting
- If you experience a sudden, unexplained, panicky feeling of doom…DON’T dismiss this symptom!
The key, always, is to listen to your body and follow your instincts.
- If something doesn’t “feel right” get yourself checked out.
- If the doctor dismisses your symptoms as not important, GET ANOTHER DOCTOR who will not stop until they get to the bottom of your symptoms.
LOVE YOURSELF, LOVE YOUR HEART!
Learn MORE about Heart Disease And Risks For Women HERE: