DocHandal tries to bring you the latest research findings that docs like herself read and use. This blog hopes to share some and guide you to reading more, after all it is your body guys!
American Heart Association Guide for Improving Cardiovascular Health at the Community Level, 2013 Update*This study looked at 26,902 men, ages 45 to 82, free from cardiovascular disease and cancer at the start of a 16-year study. Researchers found those who skip breakfast or eat late at night could be at increased risk of developing coronary heart disease. Specifically for this study male health professionals were used. They freely admitted they regularly skipped breakfast, and were found 27% more likely to die while those who ate late at night had a 55% increase in cardiac death.
Important to note it did not appear to matter how frequently they ate a day.
REsearchers caution that, these associations appeared to be mediated by BMI (body mass index), development of hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes over the years of the study.
More women than men have heart attacks! Heart disease is the No. 1 ‘killer’ in women more than all forms of cancer combined. According to the American Heart Association (AHA) ‘one in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, heart disease claims the lives of one in three. That’s roughly one death each minute’.
Here I go on my ‘soapbox’:
Heart disease affects women of all ages. Birth control pills and smoking boosts risk in young women by 20 percent. Yes risks do increase with age; things like obesity and/or inactive lifestyle contribute to clogged arteries later in life. Having high cholesterol and being thin is NOT a free ‘get of jail card’. The AHA recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20, or earlier, if your family has a history of heart disease. Also always watch your blood pressure readings.
Many women are either unaware of heart symptoms or may rationalize pains/aches as due to other causes. Examples for chest/arm, neck or jaw aches/pains include ‘my bra is too tight’, ‘I worked out too much’, ‘I over did it cleaning’. Some women experience dizziness, tiredness, lightheadedness or actually faint! Fainting without anything else is common elderly women. Know they all could be ‘screaming’ symptoms of a heart attack/disease. You do not have to have any symptoms over 60% of women who die suddenly from heart attacks NEVER had any symptoms! Yes it is possible they did have symptoms but either they themselves or their healthcare provider(s) ignored them. AGAIN women do not get the ‘classic’ chest pain described in medical books (based on studies of men).
A few words on getting info across to Docs. Just watching the news can give you ‘agita’ (Italian slang for indigestion, so can your Aunt Sophie’s spicy casserole but intermittent chest pain (termed angina) can be caused by heart disease. Many use the term ‘pain’ others ‘discomfort’. It is important to decide if chest pain is caused by your esophagus in spasm, your stomach or your heart.
Most describe ‘angina’ (heart pain) as tightness, taking breath away, squeezing around chest. Many say they have a sense of ‘impending doom’. Others especially woman may describe a band around chest, indigestion or feeling faint. Elderly may just say they feel weak.
Not to miss/ignore Angina, describe to your Doc the pain/discomfort.
Pain is perceived differently. We are all unique hence our body talks to us in a different manner. By relating pain level to a past condition that was diagnosed (ex. broken bone, tooth abscess), your tolerance or lack of – to pain can be gauged.
Communication in a succinct, preferably written form, will help guarantee that your descriptions – the ‘what when where’ are heard. Be sure to mention if something relieved your pain.
It is up to you to try to get the best possible care.