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Heart Disease

FACT: With the right education on symptoms, care and treatment, heart disease does not have to be the #1 killer in women.

Why is heart disease such a threat to women?
Most symptoms of heart disease in women can be atypical, such as  nausea, dizziness, fatigue, lower chest discomfort, upper abdominal pressure  or discomfort that feels like indigestion and upper back pain. Heart disease is more threatening to women because, unfortunately, most women ignore these symptoms, as they are usually too busy taking care of others. Women need to apply the same strength and determination to themselves that they do when caring for others.

Being that most women don't have the typical heart attack symptoms of men, a woman's symptoms may be overlooked and more difficult to pinpoint because they may be vague or subtle, and even discarded as just being stressed or overworked.

Women are more likely to experience Syndrome X, which is a form of angina and nocturnal angina. In many women, heart disease doesn't occur from obvious blockages in arteries, as it does in men.  Therefore, sometimes by the time women are diagnosed, it is more progressive and may be harder to treat.
-Ravina Balchandani MD, FACC, Interventional Cardiology

Dirty teeth (plaque buildup)=increased risk for heart disease...please explain.

If you do not visit your dentist regularly to remove calculus and plaque, periodontal disease could ensue. Periodontal disease is a loss of bone that supports your teeth, causing the gums to bleed. This disease is not reversible or curable, and has been linked to causing increased risks of cancer and heart attacks. To prevent periodontal disease, brush three times per day, floss every day and visit your dentist every six months for check-ups. 
-Dr. Julie Camp, DDS, Hilton Head Dental

How do I know if my chest pain is due to heartburn or acid reflux rather than due to heart causes or other serious problems?
Chest pain in an adult is a potentially serious complaint. Although heartburn and acid reflux often cause burning discomfort in the center of the lower chest, it is not easy (or safe) to come to this diagnosis to the exclusion of something more serious.  

Acid reflux often worsens when lying flat. It rarely causes associated symptoms other than nausea. Most often, the pain is burning in nature, and involves the upper abdomen and lower chest. ANY chest pain associated with light-headedness, shortness of breath, sweating, and/or radiation of pain should be considered in need of urgent evaluation.
-Robert Clodfelter, M.D., MBA, FAAEM Medical Director,
Emergency Department, Hilton Head Hospital

What are the symptoms of a heart attack? Are women's symptoms different from men's?
Symptoms of heart attack include both typical, classic symptoms, as well as atypical symptoms. Although this is true for both men and women, atypical symptoms are more common in women.  

Typical symptoms include:
. Chest discomfort
. Shortness of breath
. Arm pain
. Nausea
. Sweating

Atypical symptoms include:
. Fatigue
. Mid-scapular (back) pain
. Increased activity intolerance (simply slowing down)

Any of these symptoms require attention and should be evaluated by a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
-Lynn Steckel, ACNP-C, Hilton Head Heart, specializing in heart disease in women.

What are the top five things I should do now to prevent future heart issues?
. Don't smoke or use tobacco
. Exercise for 30 minutes on most days
. Eat a Heart-Healthy diet
. Maintain a healthy weight
. Get regular health screenings
-Robin McLean, Cardiovascular Concepts

What is new and exciting happening in the prevention or treatment of heart disease?
Preventive Screenings! The American Heart Association, along with the American College of Cardiology, recently released new guidelines which address prevention of cardiovascular disease by early detection and assessments for management of cholesterol, blood pressure, weight and lifestyle.
-Robin McLean, Cardiovascular Concepts

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