February is American Heart Month and a great time to tackle the problem of women and heart disease. It is the leading cause of death among women, causing 400,000 deaths a year, one in three women. Experts say the medical profession often plays poorly on the disease, giving men preferential treatment for heart health.
Dr. Kevin Campbell, a renowned cardiologist from Raleigh, and author of "Women and Cardiovascular Disease: Addressing Disparities in Care," tells Newsmax that "women with heart disease are poorly treated and underserved."
Campbell says that every year more women than men die from heart disease and that men are often treated more aggressively than their female counterparts.
"The signs and symptoms may be different for women," he says. "Although women may have traditional heart attack symptoms, they may also have somewhat vague and nonspecific symptoms, such as backache, nausea, flu-like symptoms, and even a sense of terror.
"That's why it's sometimes harder to diagnose," he adds.
Susan Lucci, a star on the soap opera, is a good example of this, leaving aside her chest tightness symptoms until it becomes so serious: "It felt like an elephant was in a hurry." On my chest".
Fortunately, a store manager where she was shopping offered to take her to a nearby hospital where she met her husband's cardiologist.
A CT scan revealed a 90% blockage of the main artery of his heart, often called "the widow's maker", and a 70% blockage of the disease in another limb. The cardiologist inserted two stents into his arteries to increase blood flow to his heart.
"I'm lucky to be alive," she told People magazine.
Susan Lucci, 72, is the image of health. The actress adheres strictly to her Pilates diet and eats a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.
Despite her heart-healthy lifestyle, Lucci, who played Erica Kane for 41 years on All My Children, was at risk because of her family history of heart disease. His father, Victor Lucci, had a heart attack in his late forties.
Dr. Holly Anderson, her cardiologist, associate professor of medicine at the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute in New York, explains:
"His risk was due to his father's arteriosclerosis, a disease that causes plaque buildup, which can cause blockage and hardening of the arteries."
Campbell is adamant that women take a proactive stance in keeping their hearts healthy.
"Women need to know their risk factors and make sure their doctors know them as well. These include family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes and smoking.
"The most serious risk to a woman's health is heart disease, not breast or uterine cancer."
"As a woman, you think of breast cancer, not a heart attack," says Lucci, who wanted to share her story to help others. "Every EKG I had was great. My blood pressure was at the lower end of normal. "
She is now a volunteer and spokesperson for the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign.
"We often put ourselves on the back burner. But if your body tells you something, we have to be careful. "
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