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recent news reports about women and hearts and tests


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Hi everyone. I am wondering if anyone struggles with the following. You know all the reports out this week about women and heart disease? They were saying that the standard tests do not detect the plaque that clogs arteries, and that women's blood vessels are so small. There were women who went to the Er 5 times and told they were ok, felt like they were not getting enough oxygen/felt like they had a pillow over their face-this was on local. Do you guys struggle with you wonder if you will have a heart attack, from the symptoms you have especially when working out? I mean, many symptoms are classic heart attack signs. SOB, lightheaded, chest pain, ect. I have been through many heart tests and told my heart is fine. But then you see these reports that say well, the standard tests do not detect the problems in women. Just wondering how you ever know. Jennifer TX

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This thought has also occured to me. I do wonder if I ever do have a heart attack or a possible cardiac problem, how will I know, since the symptoms might be simliar to POTS symptoms I experience. That's why it is important to have regular check ups with your specialist/physician and to note any new symptoms. Hopefully now the medical community is waking up to the fact that women are as at risk as men, and this is the #1 killer of women, far outstripping cancer, for example. I also wonder if in the future, POTS will be seen as a greater risk to cardiac health for women ( I say "women" since the majority of POTS patients seem to be female) than it is now.

Katherine

Here's the study I think you have heard about this week:

Standard Test Misses Heart Disease Signs in Women

By Amanda Gardner

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Standard diagnostic testing can miss the warning signs of heart disease in women, a large U.S. government study suggests.

This is because plaque tends to collect in the smaller vessels in women, while it builds up in the major arteries in men.

Unfortunately, routine angiographies tend to pick up only significant blockages in major arteries, according to results from the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) study, initiated in 1996 to look at heart disease in women.

As many as 3 million U.S. women may have this condition, called coronary microvascular syndrome, which puts them at an increased risk of heart attack and even death, experts say.

"This just increasingly validates that we're learning more and more about women every day, and that it calls for a mechanism of heart disease that frequently goes undiagnosed," said Dr. Nieca Goldberg, chief of women's cardiac care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and author of The Women's Healthy Heart Program.

"Women and physicians should pay attention to symptoms related to the heart," added Dr. George Sopko, WISE project officer for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

The study appears as a special supplement to the Feb. 6 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, and is available online on Jan. 31.

Ischemic heart disease (IHD) is the leading cause of death in the United States, with women bearing a disproportionate burden of the illness. Some 250,000 women die each year from IHD and its related conditions, the report said. More than two-thirds (38 percent) of all deaths in women are related to coronary heart disease. And, since 1984, more women than men have died each year from IHD. IHD is the leading killer of women of all ages, the report added.

Yet, traditional disease management seems to overlook problems in women. In particular, coronary angiography, an X-ray examination of the blood vessels and chambers of the heart, is not specific enough to detect problems in women, the researchers said.

"The coronary angiogram provides anatomical information about the location of the blockages, and how much they block," Sopko said. "The angiogram doesn't provide information about what happens within the wall."

WISE investigators found that a majority of women who were given an all-clear on their angiograms continued to have symptoms along with repeated testing and hospitalizations and a declining quality of life.

"We found that women who have no significant blockages but have evidence of ischemia are at a high risk for future heart attacks, repeat hospitalization or even death," Sopko said. "That was noted in small studies before but nobody had such a big cohort."

"When women go for an angiogram and they don't find blockages, it doesn't mean they don't have a problem. It means the problem's not caused by build-up of plaque," Goldberg said. "It doesn't mean that the symptoms aren't coming from the heart. They can come from very small blood vessels that we don't see in standard testing."

The question: What do you do in women who have symptoms but no significant blockages?

The answer: Don't ignore the problem.

"This is looking at women who might have been discarded. Now we're saying you don't have the big blockages but you've got some problems, so let's go look," Sopko said. "You don't neglect or deny medical therapy to these women."

An added problem, however, is that there isn't much non-standard testing to detect these kinds of problems, Goldberg said.

"Unfortunately, for this particular mechanism we don't yet have all the tools we need," Goldberg noted. "Clearly, when it comes to women and heart disease, we can't take for granted that it's going to be exactly to the same script as men."

SOURCES: George Sopko, M.D., cardiologist, National Institutes of Health, and NHLBI project officer, WISE; Nieca Goldberg, M.D., chief, women's cardiac care, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City, and author, The Women's Healthy Heart Program; Feb. 6, 2006, Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Copyright ? 2006 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

Edited by MomtoGiuliana
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A few years ago I told my pcp that if I and a man the same age as me, walked into an ER with exactly the same symptoms indicating heart problems, he would be given labs, 02, x rays, IV's, a heart cath, an ekg, and a full work up for heart disease. I would be given ativan and sent home, with a diagnoses of anxiety.

He got very mad at me and said that wasn't true. Not 3 days later, there was an article in the paper. A local cardiologist lost his younger sister to a heart attack, because they ignored her symptoms. He is now doing research on women and heart disease. In the article, he stated almost verbatim what I had said to my pcp.

I cut it out and sent it to my pcp....

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I too have wondered the same thing. When I first got sick, I kept thinking that I was having a heart attack, and the er only treated me for anxiety or plueresy. Finally my b/p fell in the docs office and my hr was so low and weak that his nurse could barely feel it. So in the hospital I went. After months and months of testing and a bunch of false negatives. (I hope they were false). The docs came up with autonomic. I even had a cardiac angiogram which was very painful and scary. The cardiologist at the time treated me horribly, like there was nothing wrong with me. He said that he would switch my meds around and I would feel better. I asked him what meds? The only thing that I am taking is coumadin. Thats when my pcp at the time told him to do the angiogram. I have even had abnormal ekg's but they still say nothing is wrong with my heart. So go figure. All I can do is to rely on the docs and hope for the best. Vanessa

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Guest Belinda

I am also concerned about the chest pain I have gotten over the years..sometimes it is sharp stabbing pains other times in is left of center on heart area..I too get s.o.b. feeling of being smothered. Every thime I have gone to ER they treat me for anxiety(which totally ticks me off because usually I am calm), or just non-specific chest pain.

I asked two different cardiac docs. if they believe in spasms of the arteries even small ones..nope.

Being 28 my chest pain has never been taken serious in the ER.

My old cariologist who didn't believe in dysautonomia..did do the new ct scan that is out that would determine blockages..it is high tech. Nothing!

I have been asked if I have had a Catheritization, I had one when I was 20. I also had an ablation done when I was 22.

My concern is that my electrophysiologist that I just started seeing two months ago, said it was common to have someone if family history that had a sudden death at a young age..being adopted my info. is limited on family history.

I fight the s.o.b./or similar feeling weekly along with the chest pain and it takes everything I have not to go to ER.

Is there a certain link about this article that was posted I would like to give that to the E.P. doc. and take it in next time I am in ER with Chest pain!

Take care all..Belinda

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