Dr. Goldberg shares the most common symptoms seen in women indicating they have heart disease.
Heart symptoms typically start, or you recognize them when you just can’t do as much as you used to. Meaning, if you were able to walk a flight or two of stairs without any symptoms, you realize you have to stop at the landing and go up the next flight of stairs or maybe stop after five steps, and these are new symptoms to you.
Or you can walk on flat grounds but it seems hard to walk uphill, or in New York City, people start to figure out that they can’t make the subway stairs as easily as they had done. So that’s the first sign that there maybe something going on in your arteries, and why is that important is because your arteries are the main delivery system of blood and oxygen and nutrients to the heart muscle.
So, if there’s an obstruction and you put extra demand by going up a flight of stairs or up a hill on your heart, you can’t do it. If you are managing to compensate for it, you may not even realize it because internally, if you get shorter breaths so you won’t take the stairs you’ll take an elevator or you won’t go uphill or you walk a little slower. So you may be changing the way you’re behaving or not going to dance class or the gym. Those are the women who we want to get to the doctors so they can have a stress test and we can see what your physical capability is.
And sometimes those women who have the normal angiograms have positive stress tests. So a lot of times the stress test was considered a test that didn’t work in women, but maybe that positive stress test has been the clue that a woman had a problem, and even if the angiogram is normal, maybe she needs to go on medicines that treat her symptoms to see if her symptoms get better.
About Dr. Nieca Goldberg, M.D.:
Dr. Nieca Goldberg is a cardiologist and a nationally recognized pioneer in women’s heart health. Her New York City practice Total Heart Care focuses primarily on caring for women. Dr. Goldberg is Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of NYU Women’s Heart Program, the Co-Medical Director of the 92nd Street Y’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center, a national spokesperson for the American Heart Association’s “Go Red” campaign – an association for which she has volunteered for over 15 years and been a board member in NYC. She was formerly the Chief of Women’s Cardiac Care at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.