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The Doctor Is In: Women and Heart Disease

From raising children to maintaining busy work schedules and keeping up with household chores, women’s lives are more hectic than ever. Women often put everyone else in their family first, but it’s important that they take time for their own health.

Dr. “Dee” Prastein, heart surgeon at Lexington Cardiovascular Surgery, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, talks about women and heart disease, encouraging all of us to “Just Say Know.”

Prastein_Labcoat_Standing_ORWhat differences have you noticed between men and women with heart disease?
Women tend to delay things, living with heart disease longer and presenting later. We see women who go about their routine chores while having chest pain or chest discomfort, ignoring or dismissing it. Sometimes they live with symptoms until they become so tired that they physically can’t do anything. It’s only then that they see a doctor.

What do women tell you about why they didn’t see a doctor sooner?
They seem to be focused on everyone except them. They put their families first. We see wives encouraging their husbands to see a doctor, but women often live with symptoms until they can no longer hide them.

How can heart surgery be different for men and women?
Women do really well with heart surgery because they seem to tolerate pain better than men. Also, older patients often tolerate pain better than younger ones.

How does smoking affect our hearts?
Nicotine causes hardening of the blood vessels, making them more stiff and narrow. That hardening of the arteries makes blockages more apparent sooner. You could say nicotine is the opposite of nitroglycerin, which allows blood vessels to become bigger.

What about diabetes?
With diabetes, high levels of sugar in your bloodstream allow the buildup of plaque in every blood vessel in your body, including the arteries in your heart.

What message do you have for women about heart disease?
I want women to know that it’s not normal to have no energy or to have chest discomfort such as pain or burning. If you do, see your doctor. Women who smoke, have a family history of heart disease or have diabetes should be especially careful. Don’t ignore symptoms. We can treat them and prevent a major heart attack.

Take 5 for Heart Health: Know the Facts

This week on WIS-TV, we’re talking about ways you can be heart healthy with “Take 5 for Heart Health.” Dr. Cassandra Patterson of Peterson & Plante Internal Medicine Associates, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, talked with news anchor Dawndy Mercer Plank about heart disease risk factors for women, along with recognizing symptoms. Watch the interview in the video below.

The segment is part of our “Just Say Know” campaign, educating women about heart disease. Learn more and take a heart health quiz at LexMed.com/Know.

And, learn more about heart health at our FREE Heart Fair this Sunday, March 1, from Noon to 4:00 p.m. at the Doubletree by Hilton on Bush River Road. Discover the latest heart-heatlh information on stroke, EMS and 9-1-1, advanced technologies for diagnostic, interventional and surgical procedures, and mini-lectures from physicians and clinicians. You can also participate in free activities including massage therapy, relaxation training, citizen CPR lessons, blood pressure screenings, healthy food demonstrations and a kids’ corner.

The Measles Outbreak

Measles is spreading around the United States. Dr. Jeremy Crisp, family practice physician with Lexington Family Practice Northeast, was a guest on WIS-TV this week to talk about the respiratory virus, the vaccine and treatment. The facts and calm fears. He answered a lot of questions during a live web chat and in this interview with news anchor Judi Gatson.

A few notes from Dr. Crisp:

~The measles is a very contagious respiratory infection. It is spread through respiratory drops (from a cough or a sneeze). One statistician calculated that a person with the measles could infect up to 15 people if they were not immune.

~The measles vaccine is safe. None of us likes to see our children get shots, but it’s the best way to prevent the measles and the vaccine is very effective. There’s a possibility of redness at the injection site or a low fever, but that’s it.

~The measles starts with symptoms similar to a cold. But the distinctive rash and a high fever will help doctors determine the diagnosis.

~The measles is still a problem worldwide. Many countries have outbreaks right now. Experts think the outbreak in California started from someone traveling from overseas.

~The first measles shot provides 95% of people with immunity. One booster is recommended. If you have questions about your immunity, talk to your doctor. A blood test can tell if you’re immune to measles.