- Published on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 00:07
- Written by Jackie Jones, BlackAmericaWeb.com
Have a question about heart health? Text it to "646464" (OHOHOH).
Annabelle Volgman says too many women feel ignored or dismissed by their doctors and the need for a place where they felt they could be taken seriously was a major impetus behind the Rush Heart Center for Women.
Volgman, who is the center’s medical director, has published numerous articles about women and heart disease and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. WomenHeart is the nation’s only patient-centered organization supporting the 42 million women living with heart disease. The non-profit charity also provides all of these services for free.
“In 12 years of practicing cardiology before opening the Rush Heart Center for Women the message I heard from my patients was their doctors didn’t listen to them. Some women who came to Rush felt the doctors made a conclusion about what was wrong with them the minute they walked through the door. They were diagnosed, not with a problem with their hearts, but rather with a problem in their heads,” Volgman told Today’s Chicago Woman.
“Many women were told not to worry about their hearts since the problem was most likely just stress or anxiety. In my practice, 95 percent of these women turned out to have heart conditions, which were often missed by the previous doctors. It’s no wonder there have been more women than men dying from heart disease since 1984.”
According to the American Heart Association, every minute in the United States, someone's wife, mother, daughter or sister dies from heart disease, stroke or other form of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
A third of women, overall, and nearly half of black American women are living with CVD. Heart disease death rates have declined steadily over the last 25 years for men, but the decline has been significantly lower for women, the AHA said.
The AHA applauds several efforts and seeks support for others that help women, particularly women of color, including:
• HEART for Women Act: A new federal law designed to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and stroke in women.
• WISEWOMAN, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention program that provides cardiovascular screening and lifestyle intervention services to low-income uninsured and underinsured women.
• Medicare and Medicaid, both of which disproportionately serve women.
• Affordable Care Act, which includes provisions to ban the discriminatory practice of charging women higher premiums than men for insurance coverage.
• Health Equity and Accountability Act, federal legislation to help eliminate health inequities among minorities, women and other groups.
• Public funding and state appropriations that support eliminating health disparities initiatives.
With careful monitoring, especially of pregnant women with heart disease, the outlook is promising, Volgman said.
“There are hundreds of women that come to the Rush Heart Center for Women and ask me to help them deal with their risks,” Volgman told the magazine. “Some have required gastric bypass surgery as a last resort to deal with their weight problems. Most just needed to be told they have to be more active and eat a healthier diet. Some have required angioplasties, stents, open-heart surgeries, catheter ablations, pacemakers and defibrillators. But all of them just needed to know their doctor was helping them get healthier and live a better quality of life. They just needed someone who cared for them.”
Are you interested in learning more about how heart disease impacts African-American women? Are you looking for resources for African-American women to improve their heart health?
WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease presents African-American Women and Heart Disease – What You Need to Know
What: African-American Women and Heart Disease – What You Need to Know, a national patient education webinar
When: Tuesday, February 26, 6:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. CT/4:00 p.m. MT/3:00 p.m. PT
Featured Presenter: Nakela Cook, MD, MPH, clinical medical officer, Division of Cardiovascular Sciences, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
How: Register today!
Share this invitation with patients, family, friends & co-workers!
What effect does hypocalcaemia have on the heart?
It can cause arrhythmias (heart palpitations), ranging from minor to potentially fatal.
My husband's BP has averaged 185/115 since June. He is diabetic, obese, and has a pacemaker. His latest medication is Aldomet. What can we do next? I’m very concerned.
There are many medications that are available for high blood pressure - he needs at least 2 or 3 for his conditions. He needs something to protect his kidneys from the diabetes and usually a diuretic or water pill. Aldomet is not a good drug in this case.
What do you do if you are allergic to aspirin, what can I take instead?
If necessary, a substitute would be Plavix or clopidogrel.
Is heart disease reversible?
There are many reversible heart conditions. The coronary artery disease or plaque that causes heart attacks and strokes can be prevented from progressing by heart healthy lifestyle and medications like statins (cholesterol lowering drugs).
Can you have a heart attack even though you have a low blood pressure?
I heard you say "when you chew that aspirin". Are the aspirins that you chew more effective than the ones you swallow with water?
It can just work faster if you chew the aspirin during a heart attack.
What exactly is heart disease?
There are many different kinds of heart disease but the most common is coronary artery disease - the plaque buildup that can cause heart attacks.
I would like to get certain tests done that are not usually checked during regular checkups, like heart disease. Is there a certain test I can mention to my doctor?
Tests for the heart are usually done only if the person is having symptoms such as chest sensations and shortness of breath. Blood tests are done to evaluate your risk of heart disease.
I have been diagnosed with heart failure. I am 55-years-old. I have been on meds for two yrs. What is my mortality rate?
It depends on how severe your heart failure is but we generally can decrease the risk of dying with excellent medications such as beta-blockers and ACE-inhibitors or ARBs. If necessary, an implantable defibrillator is used to save the patient's life in the event of a life-threatening arrhythmia or to improve the heart function. Please make sure you are under the care of a good cardiologist!
If you are on a low dose of high blood pressure medication is it possible for you to change your lifestyle with diet and exercise to not having to take that medicine with your doctors okay?
I had been taking one 81mg aspirin every day for years. Then my doctor took me off of them saying that only patients who had heart attacks were the ones who should take an aspirin a day. I take one occasionally because heart disease killed my mom.
There are certain high risk patients that we continue to put on a baby aspirin. It depends on your risk factors, gender and tolerance of the aspirin.
I take Ecotrin 81mg every day. 4 years ago I had open heart surgery. I had an Aortic Heart Valve replacement. I chose the mechanical valve; if I think I may be having a heart attack should I take a 325mg aspirin.
Yes, you can take one or two 325 mg if you think you're having a heart attack. Please check with your doctor since you need to know if you are at risk for a heart attack. I am sure you are taking blood thinners (warfarin) for the mechanical valve. Taking the aspirin can increase your risk of a severe bleed.
Sometimes I feel like a phone vibration in the left of my chest.
Please have this checked out by a cardiologist. This could be an arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation. You will need an echocardiogram and an event recorder for a month to document what your heart rhythm is during that sensation.
What heart test should you request from your doctor?
A baseline set of blood tests to check your lipids (cholesterol), glucose (sugar), and blood pressure. If you have symptoms such as chest pains or any sensation in your chest, shortness of breath you may need an ECG, echocardiogram (ultrasound of your heart) and a stress test.
What is the reason trap gas can cause bad chest pain. I have been checked by my heart doctor but I still have this problem now more frequent. I am in my early 60s and I have allergies.
Please make sure that they have checked your heart. You may need an echocardiogram (ultrasound of your heart) or even a stress test.
I'm always cold and tired but sometimes more so than others. How do I know what to do?
You may have a thyroid condition that can easily be checked by a simple blood test. You can talk to an internist about this.
What does the doctor think about using extra virgin organic red palm oil to reduce cholesterol level & overall well-being?
Olive oil does not reduce cholesterol but they are not bad for your heart. They do have calories so be careful not to overuse! I am not familiar with the benefits of organic red palm oil.
What does pain in your large intestine mean? Accompanied by numbness in your fingers?
You may need a gastroenterologist to answer this question. You can talk to your internist about these symptoms first and then be referred to a specialist if he/she can't figure it out.
What is the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest?
A heart attack is usually a blood clot blocking the flow of the blood in a heart artery causing the heart muscle to not get blood. The heart muscle can die after 4 hours without blood flow. A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating due to an arrhythmia (disturbance of the heart rhythm). Cardiac arrest can be caused a new or old heart attack, heart failure, other heart diseases, recreational drugs like cocaine, medications that have this risk and many other things.
Does being over-tired also apply to men as being a possible symptom of a heart attack, to include feeling this way regularly? But I must admit that I don't always get my proper amount of sleep.
Yes, it does also apply to men. Please have this checked out.
I have been getting out of breath walking short distances and was told my heart is leaking. Can you tell me why they still want to do a stress test if they already found this on an echo test? I'm a 41-year-old black female.
The exercise done during a stress test can show if the heart valve leak gets worse with exertion. This can change the recommendation from medications to a heart valve repair or replacement.
I have a lot of shoulder pain and it’s hard to sleep. I also have pain from neck to shoulders I work out with weights a lot, should I be concerned?
If you have risk factors you should definitely get this evaluated for heart related problems. If the pain is triggered by these exercises it may just be musculoskeletal but it's important to check this out by doing certain tests. Please talk to your doctor about this.
I have random chest pains but my CAT scan and EKG came back good.
People have lots of aches and pains. If your heart has been checked out I often find that vitamin D levels are helpful since low vitamin D can cause chest pains.
I'm 45-year-old woman and I’m having left arm tingling and shoulder pain, could this
be a sign of heart problems?
Yes, but it is most likely due to a spinal problem.