According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over 1 million Americans suffer a heart attack each year and an individual dies nearly every minute from one.
Women make up nearly half of all the cardiovascular deaths. Regardless of a woman’s racial or ethnic background, she is at risk for heart disease. In an effort to further awareness of a woman’s risk for heart disease and improve her heart health, the American Heart Association created the Go Red for Women Campaign which takes place throughout the month of February.
Modifiable (those we can change) risk factors for heart disease in a woman include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. All women should know their numbers: their baseline cholesterol, blood pressure, body mass index, and blood sugar levels. If any of these numbers are elevated or abnormal, it is extremely important that those women work with their healthcare provider to manage their risk factors. All women should also employ a lifestyle of healthy eating habits and regular exercise to reduce their risk of heart disease.
Women should also be aware of symptoms of a heart attack which include chest pain or shortness of breath. They should also know the atypical symptoms of a heart attack such as back and neck pain, lightheadedness, indigestion, and weakness which frequently occur in women and they should not ignore these symptoms. If any of these symptoms occur, they need to see a healthcare professional right away.
Fortunately, numerous, innovative non-invasive modalities such as nuclear stress testing and coronary CT angiograms are available for early detection of underlying advanced heart disease or “clogged arteries.”
These noninvasive tests can determine if a person’s coronary arteries (those arteries that feed the heart) have underlying blockages that are preventing the adequate supply of blood to the heart muscle. The echocardiogram is an ultrasound modality that allows clinicians to evaluate the strength of the heart pump and assess for any underlying heart valve disease. If a blockage is thought to be present within the coronary arteries, an invasive coronary angiogram is often recommended. This special X-ray test takes pictures of blood flow within an artery once iodine dye is injected. If an advanced blockage is detected, an expandable piece of metal called a stent is often placed to open the blocked portion of the coronary artery.
Women carry a risk of heart disease that will increase during their lifetime. Living a healthy lifestyle, knowing their numbers, and having regular check-ups with their healthcare provider are essential for maintaining their heart health.
Dr. Vallabhan – 352.750.2040
It’s your heart.
It should be personal.
And that’s how I treat it.
When you come to see me… that’s exactly who you will see. I will know your name, how many children you have, what foods you love to eat and how much sleep you get each night. I will take your health personally. That is why I am the only doctor you will see when you come to my office. I will take time with you and get to know you personally. No patient of mine will ever have to see an associate or undergo needless testing. I will know which tests are needed and which aren’t. I will watch over you and treat you as I want to be treated when, one day, I am the patient and not the doctor. And that is my promise to you.