Chicago Health | Homepage
Heart to Heart

Heart to Heart

A conversation about heart health with Loyola’s Dr. Binh An P. Phan

by David Himmel

Men and women are different. Should the two sexes be looking for different warning signs of heart disease?

One of the biggest things to remember is that heart disease is the number one killer for both men and women. There is a lot of publicity out there about heart disease killing men and not as much about it killing women. Instead, there tends to be a lot of publicity aimed at women and breast cancer, which is important. But heart disease is still their number one killer.

Nevertheless, men are from Mars and women are from Venus, so the symptoms of, say, a heart attack can be different. Men having a heart attack will display typical symptoms like pressure in their chest. Women can present symptoms with no chest pains at all. But other symptoms like tingling in the arm or face, numbness or difficulty breathing…. This is called an atypical presentation.

And that does influence quite a bit how women are treated in an emergency room. If you’re presenting with atypical symptoms of a heart attack, the diagnosis is often overlooked, or the proper testing isn’t done because testing is done based on the symptoms presented. This can all lead to a delayed diagnosis of heart disease. And that can lead to poor healthcare down the road.

This sounds like a systemic problem in treatment.

Part of the problem is a lack of knowledge base and awareness. It is, however, less of a problem than it once was. It’s getting better with more clinical experience, but no matter how knowledgeable a provider is, if you don’t come in with a classic symptom, the provider has to consider a broader diagnosis. This can lead to a delay in proper diagnosis.

Once a woman is diagnosed with heart disease, do you treat her differently than you would a man?

Most of the recommendations for treating a man or a woman are pretty much the same. I do have to say, there are clinical trials that have looked at the benefits of therapies where 80–90 percent of the enrollment were men. Women have been underrepresented. And if you look back on trials that were only women, we find that not all treatments for men would be as beneficial for women. We need to balance out the research. Most trials now are required to have a balance.

But generally, the treatment is all the same such as treatment for elevated cholesterol and blood pressure along with therapies such as aspirin in patients with a diagnosis of heart disease.

Women do manifest heart disease 10 years later than men. And after menopause, the risk does go up. It’s believed that estrogen helps stave off the disease. However, trials show that hormone replacement after menopause does not necessarily reduce a women’s risk of heart disease.

Let’s break basic heart-care factors into age groups. What should someone in their 20s and 30s be doing versus someone in their 60s or 70s?

We know that relevant medical issues arise as you age. Blood pressure and cholesterol levels will go up. Things like diabetes come up as you get older. So, the risk of heart disease is greater. But there are things people should do regardless of age.

It is important to know what your cholesterol levels are. Follow up with regular cholesterol evaluations. Know what your blood pressure is, and treat any elevated hypertension.

For the general population, you should start being screened for cholesterol when you’re 20. I don’t want people to get lulled into a sense of comfort in their 20s because they think that they are unquestionably healthy and that heart disease is a problem only of older people. We know that the underlying cause of the disease is fatty buildup in the arteries. And that begins very early in life. Don’t delay a heart-healthy lifestyle.

Give me a quick crash course in the building blocks for a healthy heart.

Don’t smoke. Exercise five days a week for 30 minutes. It’s not long. Thirty minutes is a TV show. Eat a low saturated-fat diet. Those are things anyone and everyone should do. And do them for the entire length of your life.

So is it ever too late to start taking care of your heart?

No. Absolutely not. Even at 70 or 80, you can get treatment.

Does medication like Lipitor extend lives?

Lipitor and similar medications in the class called “statins” have been shown to be very beneficial to people with high cholesterol, whether they’ve had a heart attack or not. It’s a great preventative treatment to help lower the risk for heart-related events. And yes, it has been shown to extend lives.

If you have abnormal cholesterol levels, you should be treated with a statin medication like Lipitor because it reduces the amount of the fatty buildup in your arteries.

Are drugs like this just for the middle-aged or seniors?

No. For adults at any age, if you have elevated cholesterol levels and are at risk for having heart disease, treatment with medications, such as statins, can be helpful to reduce your risk.

Email This Post Email This Post

Similar Articles

FDA’s Notice on Morcellation Stirs Up Fears and Not Enough Questions

FDA’s Notice on Morcellation Stirs Up Fears and Not Enough Questions 0

By Ruth Kaufman Last December, a Boston anesthesiologist and her husband, a surgeon, launched a campaign

Chicago Bears Tackle Skin Cancer

Chicago Bears Tackle Skin Cancer 0

By David Himmel The Chicago Bears have teamed up with the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD)

Game On

Game On 0

The jury’s still out as to whether online brain training works the mind or just

PRP: A Promising Panacea or a  Premature Procedure?

PRP: A Promising Panacea or a Premature Procedure? 0

Can a patient’s own platelet-enhanced blood augment traditional orthopedic procedures and reduce post-surgical healing time? By

Alternative Approaches

Alternative Approaches 0

Integrative medicine gains foothold, providing hope for chronic diseases By Eve Becker So much of modern medicine

No Comments

No Comments Yet!

No one has left a comment for this post yet!

Only registered users can comment.

Registration Banner Ad_final
Find Doctors on ZocDoc

Bi-Weekly Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter

Articles By Category

Calendar

September 2014
S M T W T F S
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2

Category: GeneralThe Institute of Women Today's 40th Anniversary Gala

Close

October 2, 2014N/A

Swissôtel
323 East Upper Wacker Drive

Gala tickets are $225, and corporate sponsorships are available. For more information, contact Geri Kerger, geri.kerger@instituteofwomentoday or 773-651-8372.

3 4

Categories

Recent Comments

Homepage

Homepage

... Find More Informations here: chicagohealthonline.com/the-chicago-blues/

VIEW ARTICLE
Focus on concierge healthcare: Medical care support and more | Suppliers' Hub

Focus on concierge healthcare: Medical care support and more | Suppliers' Hub

Image Source: chicagohealthonline.com

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives