What should a heart doctor talk about on the this wear-red-for-women’s-heart-disease day?
(It’s sunny out this Friday afternoon, so I am keeping it brief.)
Promoting women’s heart health is important. Even though pink made the bigger news this week, heart disease kills far more women than breast cancer. Wait, that’s a terrible line of reasoning; impacting both diseases is important, no one more important than the other.
Preventing heart disease knows no gender. Women, too, should sweat each day that they eat, eat less bad stuff, check their blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar. And certainly smoking hurts each sex equally.
Those two paragraphs don’t offer anything too novel. Sorry.
Here’s a gender-specific nugget: How about gender-specific issues in atrial fib?
I now believe strongly that women should pay extra attention to heart rhythm issues. Women have a tougher time with AF, having a higher risk of stroke and lower rate of success from ablation. We don’t know why, but one thought holds that we let the disease progress further before intervening. Another is that female hearts are more apt to form atrial scar tissue. And maybe male-dominated cardiologists refer women for treatment differently? No, this could not be so. We heart doctors are good listeners.
Though it’s important not to over-worry about AF, I think female gender is an important input in the AF-treatment equation. My message to women with AF: pay attention to your symptoms, take charge of your lifestyle choices and help your doctor listen. Know that female gender increases your stroke risk. Know that AF responds better to treatment in its early phases.
The final thing that strikes me about February as the GoRed month pertains to the power that women hold. Women run stuff: households, businesses, nursing units, schools and of course…men.
It seems obvious that putting women out front in the charge towards better health is a grand idea.