Heart1.com: Great Information, Real Community, Better Living.
 Register
 Login
 Main Page
 Heart News
Feature Story
 Education Center
Conditions
Procedures
Diagnostics
 Heart Attack Center
Prevention
Survivors
Dr. Tod Engelhardt  Heart
 Hero™

Dr. Tod Engelhardt:
Combating Major Blood Clots.
About Heroes
 Join the Discussion  in  Our Forums
 Community
Heart1 Forums
Patient Stories
 Reference
Online Resources
Video Library
advertisement
Search the Body1 Network
March 26, 2019  
HEART NEWS: Feature Story

  • Print this Article
  • Email this Article
  • Links/Reprints
  •  The Key to Diagnosing Women’s Heart Disease

    Listening – The Key to Diagnosing Women’s Heart Disease


    March 03, 2005

    By: Jean Johnson for Heart1

    Of all the women who die each year from heart attacks, 2/3 had no symptoms that either the physician or the patient identified as serious. And according to the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, the only patient-advocacy group organization founded by and for women with heart disease, heart disease takes the lives of more than 250,000 American women each year, making it the leading cause of death at six times the rate of breast cancer.

    It’s not news that advances in the care of women with heart disease have lagged significantly behind those associated with men. Throughout the 20th century cardiac problems have traditionally been considered most prevalent in males. Thus, when women experience symptoms, they tend to be dismissed and opportunities for critical early intervention are missed.

    “I had radiation damage to my left descending artery after treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The radiation scarred the artery, leading to angina pain when I was at rest – the most dangerous type of angina,” said Washington state resident Sylvia Hartman. Since her symptoms weren’t “a normal clinical presentation of heart disease, I had trouble getting my doctor to listen to me instead of passing me off as a hysterical woman who needed a psychiatrist.”

    Rather than the “Hollywood Heart Attack” in which chest pain causes a person to collapse on the floor, women more often experience nausea, indigestion or fatigue before and during a heart attack. In a study of 515 women, only 1/3 had chest pain although they described it as more of an aching or tightness. Also, 71 percent of the women complained of unusual fatigue with half of them noting sleep disturbance. The range of symptoms started as much as a month prior to the actual cardiac event, and in women that experienced a second attack, their symptoms were sometimes different than the ones they initially had.

    Physicians have the greatest success in treating patients within the first two hours after heart attacks. Measures including drugs to control blood clots and balloon angioplasty lose their effectiveness after this window of time, and instances of death and lasting heart damage rise.

    What to Watch For
    Tips for Women

    1. Aching or tightness in the chest

    2. Unusual fatigue with or without sleep disturbance

    3. Anything unusual with your body – Listen to your body’s signals

    Yet, according to a 2003 Mayo Clinic analysis of the “first-ever national survey of women heart patients,” 58 percent said physicians either did not take their complaints seriously or simply told them to lose some weight and get more exercise. In particular women singled out physicians for their “insensitivity, rudeness, abruptness, and ignorance about heart disease in females.” The women also noted they often did not have the funds or insurance coverage for nutrition counseling and weight management services, and that they tended to experience anxiety and depression in addition to their heart-related symptoms.

    Advocates in the field of women’s heart disease say that a key to changing this pattern is by women listening to their own bodies, taking their symptoms seriously, and insisting that their physicians do the same. It puts an additional burden on women who are already suffering from an array of symptoms. Still, given the current state of confusion in caring for women with heart disease, listening is an essential tool.

    Last updated: 03-Mar-05

    Comments

  • Add Comment
  •    
    Interact on Heart1

    Discuss this topic with others.
     
    Feature Archives

    Heart Disease Patients Need to Exercise to Benefit from the Protective Effects of Wine

    Effective Treatment for Heart Failure Possible Following Discovery of Heart Molecule

    Significant Decrease in Heart Disease after Prison Smoking Bans

    Heart Failure Patients Who Sleep Poorly Are at Double the Risk for Hospitalization

    Long-Term Survival Possible for Pediatric Heart Transplant Patients

    Next 5 Features ...

    More Features ...
       
     
    Related Multimedia

    The risk of cardiac death due to a lower ejection fraction

    Plaques/fatty deposits as a cause for a heart attack

     
    Related Content
    Updated heart disease prevention guidelines for women focus more on “real-world” recommendations than clinical research

    Timing May Be the Key to Hormone Therapy

    Snoring May Be Early Sign Of Future Health Risks

    Anti-Inflammatory Drugs May Offer Novel Treatment For Heart Disease

    New Blood Test Could Predict Heart Attacks

    More Features ...
     
    Home About Us Press Jobs Advertise With Us Contact Us
    advertisement
    © 2019 Body1 All rights reserved.
    Disclaimer: The information provided within this website is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for consultation with your physician or healthcare provider. The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the Owners and Sponsors of this site. By using this site you agree to indemnify, and hold the Owners and Sponsors harmless, from any disputes arising from content posted here-in.