Heart Disease Not Just a Problem for Men: Women at Risk, too

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Women are as much at risk for heart disease as men. Assessing risk, getting screened and seeking treatment at the onset of symptoms are key steps toward maintaining heart health, according to Dr. Andrew S. Rosenson, medical director, HeartScan of Chicago.

One out of every two women will die of heart disease. 500,000 people die every year - more than the next six causes of death combined. Additionally, the condition can be more dangerous for women than men and is more likely to leave women severely disabled by a stroke or congestive heart failure.

According to Dr. Andrew S. Rosenson, radiologist and medical Director of HeartScan of Chicago, the reasons are complex, but include:

1)    Lack of education
2)    Women wait longer before calling 911.
3)    Women do not perceive themselves to be at risk.

"Taking care of one's health is one of the most important things anyone - man or woman - can do for their family," says Rosenson,. "And because heart disease is the number one killer of women, it is crucial they are proactive regarding their heart health."

The good news is the majority of all heart disease can be prevented by proper heart health care and successfully treated with early detection. During February, Women's Heart Health month, women should put these three steps on the top of their "to do" lists:

1)    Assess risk: Conditions that can increase the risk of heart disease include a family history; smoking; high cholesterol; poor diet and being post menopause.

2)    Get screened with the right diagnostic test. These include blood tests; stress tests; echocardiogram; and invasive coronary angiogram. While these tests are valuable, each provides limited information. The coronary angiogram, long considered the "gold standard" is considered too risky for patients without symptoms. Unfortunately, many people with heart disease have no symptoms.

Fortunately, there is a new, state-of-the art technology which is safe and non-invasive. The 64 CT scanner is a sophisticated, outpatient procedure that surpasses older tests and allows physicians to see into the coronary arteries. The scan provides excellent image quality, enabling doctors to view images of a heart as it beats, permitting evaluation of the coronary arteries, the heart muscle and the motion of its walls in greater detail.

With one simple test, a patient can learn if they have heart disease and seek needed treatment before a more serious problem develops. Or, better still, they may find they have no heart disease at all.

3)    Learn to recognize the signs: If a person goes to the hospital within one or two hours from the onset of symptoms, their chances of getting successful treatment are nearly 70 percent greater for those who wait 10 hours or more before seeking help. Typical symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, jaw ache and pain in the arm or leg. Symptoms that are more common in women than men are anxiety, fatigue, nausea, headache and excessive sweating.

Knowing ones body, one's risks, how well one's heart is working as well as making proactive, positive lifestyle changes are the first steps toward preventing complications and even an early death. For more information, visit http://www.HeartScanofChicago.com or call 312.587.1111 to speak with Dr. Andrew S. Rosenson, a nationally recognized authority on cardiac imaging and diagnostic radiology.

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