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What Makes Women’s Heart Health different? By Shani S. Saks, D.O.

By December 5, 2008 - 2:52pm

What Makes Women’s Heart Health different?
Women’s Heart and Wellness at Arizona Heart Institute

Heart disease in women can be very different than heart disease in men. In fact, some women have symptoms of heart disease and don’t even realize it. Certainly, they can experience the classic feeling of an elephant sitting on their chest but it is also possible that their symptoms can be more vague. Less dramatic symptoms, which most women don’t associate with heart disease, include neck, nausea, vomiting or pain in the jaw or shoulders.

Many women don’t realize that the No.1 cause of death for women is heart disease and more common than death due to all cancers combined. That’s why Arizona Heart Institute recently started a Women’s Heart and Wellness program which encourages women to get screened, diagnosed and treated for heart disease early in the disease process. Some women come in when they’re 30 to simply get screened just to keep track of their heart health. But usually the age at which a patient should be screened for heart disease depends on family history and other risk factors such as smoking being or overweight. If a patient’s mother or father had heart complications in their 40’s and 50’s then the individual patient should be screened in their 40’s and 50’s.

Women’s Heart and wellness at Arizona Heart Institute utilizes a simple screening tool called Calcium Score Testing, which evaluates the potential presence of calcium blockage in the coronary arteries. A healthy individual with no evidence of calcium should have a score of zero, but the greater degree of calcium the higher the score will be. It’s very simple to take the test, too. The patient just lies on the table and goes through a donut-shaped machine (CT Scanner). This test does not involve any injections, and results are ready in minutes.

In the past, it was hard for women to get the proper testing and screening. They were sometimes told that symptoms they were experiencing were just due to anxiety. Thankfully, that was changed, and we take complaints form women just as seriously as complaints from men.


We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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