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Women's Health

Just Like Men, Women Need To Check Their Hearts


Heart disease among women has been growing and a woman's risk of developing heart disease or having a heart attack is now equal to that of a man. "The problem has been growing for years," said cardiologist Dr. Erica Jones.

"But women have been slow to respond and get the preventative screenings and immediate medical help that can save their life. They need to," Dr. Jones urged.

Part of the problem, according to Dr. Jones, is that heart disease usually manifests itself a decade later in women – at 60 instead of 50 – when women's bodies are weaker and less able to fend off disease. Estrogen helps protect a women's heart, but after menopause things are different.

Symptoms can also problematic. While a man having a heart attack or heart problem may vomit, sweat profusely, or experience pressure like chest pain, women are more likely to feel subtle symptoms such as vague discomfort, fatigue, or nausea and attribute it to another cause.

About 35 percent of women ignore symptoms or don't report it to a physician, and those who go to an emergency room can wait longer for treatment as physicians rule out other causes.

"Time is muscle," said Dr. Jones in an issue of Science Briefs from Weill Cornell Medical College. "Get regular preventative screenings, and if even mild symptoms of a heart attack occur, seek medical attention immediately and make sure the physician considers it may be a heart attack. Waiting and seeing can be disastrous."

Dr. Jones is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College and an associate attending physician at the Iris Cantor Women's Health Center of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

For more information visit http://www.med.cornell.edu/science/


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