News Flash > Cardiovascular Health

 

The Heart Of A Woman: What Doctors Don't Diagnose

Reported November 24, 2011


MIAMI (Ivanhoe Newswire) --While heart disease is the leading cause of death among women in the U.S, statistics show they’re not getting the care they need. In fact, when men have heart symptoms, 62 percent of doctors send them to a cardiologist for further testing while less than half as many doctors refer female patients. We’ll show you more disturbing statistics that could cost a woman her life.

When Donna Marie Mackay complained of chest pain, shortness of breath and back pain, her doctor told her to take it easy.

“I felt as though I’m gonna die,” Donna Marie Mackay told Ivanhoe

Her doctor did not order blood work or heart tests.

“She just like blew me off and that’s a terrible feeling,” Mackay said.

Three months later, Donna went to the ER. She had four blocked arteries and needed open heart surgery.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was just so stunned,” Mackay remembered.

Cardiologist Adam Splaver says a symptom like shortness of breath is too often dismissed as anxiety among women.

“In training, we were taught to be on the lookout for hysterical females who come to the emergency room,” Adam Splaver, M.D., a cardiologist at Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, Fl. told Ivanhoe.

And some women are getting bad information. Women naturally have higher HDL, or good cholesterol levels than men. They’re often told that will protect them.

“Just having a high HDL may help a bit but will not completely prevent cardiovascular disease,” Dr. Splaver said.

One study shows 20 percent of women with high HDL had a heart attack. Another study shows when stress is added to a list of heart symptoms, 56 percent of doctors diagnosed heart disease in men. Only 15 percent of docs made the same diagnosis in women.

“It’s there. It’s real and we need to be on the lookout," Dr. Splaver added

Donna can’t change what’s happened, but she hopes sharing her story will inspire other women to take charge if they think their doctors are ignoring their symptoms. Another disturbing statistic? While nearly 50 percent of doctors prescribed heart medication for men, only 13 percent prescribed it for women.