The Telling Secrets of Her Heart
|DeAnn Smith (seated) got rave
reviews for her choice of heart
doctor from his patients who
happened to be hair salon
clients of her sister
Mary Smith (right).
For DeAnn Smith, a routine gynecologic procedure revealed more about her heart than she ever anticipated.
She was surprised when her gynecologist called to say that a required pre-procedure test showed an abnormality in the heart’s electrical activity. DeAnn would need a cardiologist’s approval to have the procedure. She saw George Broderick, MD, medical director of cardiology at Dayton Heart and Vascular Hospital at Good Samaritan, right away, and the procedure went as planned.
A few weeks later, DeAnn returned for testing to get more information about her heart. When stress test results also were abnormal, Dr. Broderick told the 43-year-old Clayton resident she might have a blockage in one or more of her heart’s arteries.
“That’s when I started panicking,” she said. “My mom died of a heart attack at 67. With my history, Dr. Broderick and I explored three options and decided on heart catheterization so he could see if I had any blockages.”
Luckily for DeAnn, the test showed clear arteries. Today her high blood pressure and high cholesterol, both risk factors for heart disease, are managed with medication.
DeAnn’s story illustrates that the symptoms of heart disease —and even heart attack—may vary between women and men.
Deciphering the Differences
“Women often present with heart disease later in life than men. When you’re older and have multiple diseases, it can be harder to sort out what’s causing symptoms such as shortness of breath, back pain, abdominal pain, passing out, severe sweating or a vague ill feeling,” Dr. Broderick said. “If you’re having any of these symptoms, get them checked to know if you’re having a heart attack.”
Whatever a woman’s heart might need, the dedicated team at the Dayton Heart and Vascular Hospital at Good Samaritan has professionals to help. With the best local heart specialists and the most advanced technology available, the hospital offers everything from screening tests to open heart surger. “We look at the whole patient and what each one needs, ensuring that every woman—and man—benefits from the latest advances,” Dr. Broderick said.
False positive stress test like DeAnn’s is not unusual in women, Dr. Broderick said. “Once we determine no arteries are blocked, we treat a woman’s risk factors. Blockages can take years to develop. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, a family history of premature coronary artery disease and obesity around the waist all can contribute to heart disease.”
|In the Cath Lab, Dr. George Broderick
(right) looks for blockages in the
arteries that may be restricting blood
flow to the heart.
Know Your Risks
He emphasizes that heart disease is the leading cause of death for American women, killing eight times more women than breast cancer does, according to the National Institutes of Health. See your primary care physician to thoroughly assess your risk factors, he advises. Exercise and other healthy choices may lower your risks but not remove them, so be sure to discuss a management plan with your doctor.
“Women at intermediate risk may benefit from a stress test and other routine heart tests. In addition, the HeartSaver CT scan can be valuable in detecting heart disease before a woman has any symptoms,” Dr. Broderick said. Offered by Good Samaritan, this painless seven-minute test takes a series of pictures to measure how much the arteries may have hardened, often a predictor of future heart attack.
DeAnn Smith is grateful that she now knows some of the secrets of her heart. “It was so awesome to think they could look into my heart. Just six hours after I arrived for the test, I was done and going home. If you think you might have a heart problem, it’s definitely worth it to find out for sure.”
Heart Attack Warning Signs
For more information about assessing heart health with the Heart Saver CT, call (937) 734-8200.
Content Updated: December 4, 2014
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