Women usually receive less aggressive treatment for heart disease and are not referred for diagnostic tests as often as men. As a result, when many women are finally diagnosed with heart disease, they usually have a more advanced disease and their prognosis is poorer. “We now know that cardiovascular diseases affect more women than men and are responsible for more than 40% of all deaths in American women.” (1)
“Heart attacks are generally more severe in women than in men. In the first year after a heart attack, women are more than 50% more likely to die than men are. In the first 6 years after a heart attack, women are almost twice as likely to have a second heart attack.” For women, the pre-menopause risk for heart attack is 1 in 7, and post-menopause risk is 1 in 3. Women also have more silent heart attacks (asymptomatic) then men. (1)
This troubling profile of heart disease in women is due to inadequate care and poor prognostic profiling. (2) An American Heart Association (AHA) study found that women are less likely than men to receive appropriate and timely treatment for heart attacks. The study found that compared to men, women experiencing heart attacks are 14% less likely to receive aspirin, 10% less likely to receive beta blockers, 25% less likely to receive reperfusion therapy to restore blood flow, and 13% less likely to receive angioplasty [surgical repair or unblocking of a blood vessel, especially a coronary artery] within 90 minutes of hospital arrival. (3)
The AHA continues to promote an outdated male oriented profile of heart attack symptoms for both men and women. Women suffering from heart attacks often do not exhibit the same symptoms as men and thus often receive suboptimal care. Unlike men, 40% of women show no chest area heart attack symptoms. Per Dr. Decker Weiss, NMD, FASA, a world renowned Naturopathic Physician and Cardiologist, a more accurate heart attack risk profile for women would, in addition to the classical symptoms, include the following symptoms. (4) An abrupt change in how you feel. Insomnia. Depression or mood disorder and or a sense of impending doom. (5,6,7)
It is noteworthy that depression increases inflammation in the body. (8,9,10) And inflammation can trigger anxiety and depression, which in a vicious circle creates more inflammation. (11) It is also noteworthy that long term use of statin drugs to lower cholesterol may trigger depression, which in turn will increase the risk for cardiovascular disease via increased inflammation. (12) As stated in my newsletter Cholesterol: Not the Enemy, inflammation is the major underlying cause for heart attack and stroke.
There are two main points to this newsletter:
1. To help prevent heart attacks in women become familiar with the aforementioned heart attack symptoms list.
2. “The predictive value of current screening tools in women is poor, says Leslie Cho, M.D., section head of preventive cardiology and rehabilitation at Cleveland Clinic.”PARADE MAGAZINE FEBRUARY, 2014
4. Decker Weiss, Naturopathic Medical Doctor, FASA, Fellow of the American Society of Angiology, Staff Cardiologist Arizona Heart Hospital 2000-2011, Leading Physician of the World 2013: International Association of Cardiologists and the International Association of Health Care Providers, American Heart Association Professional Member, American Heart Association Committee member: Translational Biology, Director of Artis Research Center for Health and Medicine (Harris Manchester College, Oxford). He is the first naturopathic physician to complete conventional internship, residency, and fellowship in a conventional medical system. Weiss trained in the Columbia Hospital system, the Arizona Heart Hospital, Phoenix, and the Arizona Heart Institute and is the founder of the Scottsdale Heart Institute. He is the first of his profession to speak and educate for the Cleveland Clinic.