Part I of IV – Heart Health Myths and Real Facts – By Dr. Harshad Sanghvi, an experienced Cardiologist
As part of our “Health and Wellness Awareness – Education with a purpose” series, we plan to publish every Friday in February two Heart Health Myths and real facts to debunk the myths by Dr. Sanghvi, MD, FACC, experienced Cardiologist and ICC’s Lifestyle Program’s Director of Health.
We hope you will read and reflect on the facts surrounding heart disease and more importantly, act on improving your heart health.
1. Myth: Women are more likely to survive heart attacks
Fact: Women are more likely than men to die after experiencing a heart attack. The Women’s Heart Foundation reports that 42% of women who have heart attacks pass away within a year compared to 24% of male heart attack survivors. Also, for people under 50 years of age heart attacks are twice as fatal in women as in men.
There are several reasons hypothesized to explain this. There is a common myth prevailing in our society that heart disease is really a men’s problem and not women’s, and women have the same symptoms of heart attack as men. Women have more atypical symptoms than men for heart attack. Almost half of women have none of the typical symptoms that men have, so they don’t seek medical attention promptly. After presenting to the hospital with a heart attack, women are more likely to receive delayed treatment and less likely to receive proper post-heart attack medications. A research study published in December 2018 in the journal of American Heart Association showed that women were not getting the same level of care as men including receiving standard medications like beta-blockers, statins, aspirin & ACE-inhibitors.
It is important for women and medical providers to be educated about equal if not higher cardiac risk women are facing compared to men and be aware of atypical and unusual presentations women have during heart attacks. After experiencing a heart attack women should always discuss proper follow up care with their doctors. They should also be reminded of the fact that cardiovascular disease kills more women in the US than any other cause, and nearly twice as many women die from heart disease than all forms of cancers combined, and almost 4 times more than breast cancer.
2. Myth: I don’t have any symptoms, so I don’t need to worry about anything
Fact: Sixty percent of women and fifty percent of men who die suddenly of coronary disease have no previous symptoms suggestive of heart disease, and 25% of the heart attacks are completely silent. Heart attack can have atypical symptoms which can be either totally ignored or misinterpreted. Sometimes unexplained profuse sweating, extreme fatigue, nausea, indigestion, dizziness or lightheadedness, and shortness of breath, without any classic crushing pain in the center or across the chest, arms or neck, can be related to heart attack. Also, major risk factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, and elevated cholesterol have no symptoms and can go unrecognized until we check the blood pressure and run the blood tests. So, absence of symptoms can be very misleading giving a false sense of wellbeing.
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Also, Dr. Sanghvi is doing a FREE Webinar on Saturday, February 12th at 10 AM on “Heart Disease Epidemic in South Asians: The Hidden Threat and How to Prevent it”. Click here to learn more about it
ICC as a consortium partner of South Asian Heart Center is offering a proven program with documented results to South Asians in New England area. Over 128 community members from New England area have already joined the program and have benefited from it. South Asian Heart Center has been offering this program for the past 12 years and the evidence they have collected makes it clear that besides medical care, these risks and conditions can be improved by Lifestyle changes. To be effective these programs need to be culturally tailored, evidence-based and sustainable. To learn more about this program, benefits and participants testimonials, please visit – https://ouricc.org/lifestyle-program/
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