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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.

Quit Smoking in 2015 with Free Classes at LMC

4.1.1Are you trying to quit smoking in the New Year? Lexington Medical Center is pleased to offer a series of free smoking cessation classes to members of our community who want to kick the smoking habit for good. The classes, offered at the hospital’s community medical center in Lexington, meet once each week for two hours and last eight weeks. The program is open to anyone who wants to quit smoking, and because of a generous grant from the LMC Foundation, there is no cost to participate.

The first session of classes begins on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. at 811 West Main Street in Lexington inside the Executive Conference Room on the 2nd floor. The session will continue at the same time and place on January 13, 20 and 27, February 3, 10, 17 and 24.

A second session of classes will take place from March 24 to May 12.

Lisa Lewis, an RN for Cardiac Rehabilitation at LMC Lexington, initiated the program two years ago to help others to quit smoking. She received her certification from the American Lung Association as a tobacco-cessation facilitator and began to build a program.

4.1.1Since its inception, 49% of the people who completed the smoking-cessation program at LMC Lexington quit smoking, which is above the national average. The classes provide helpful tips for quitting.

The program doesn’t end with the completion of the eight-week course. Lewis and her team check on each participant at 30-, 90-, 180- and 365-day intervals for the first year. The American Lung Association also invited Lewis to become a facilitator trainer, which is a role usually reserved for its employees. LMC Lexington now has a team of five tobacco-cessation facilitators.

If you or someone you know wants to quit smoking and participate in Lexington Medical Center’s smoking-cessation program, please call (803) 358-6180. You must register for the class in advance.

Calling It Quits

Lexington Medical Center offers a free smoking cessation program for people who are looking to quit. It’s the topic of an editorial in the current edition of Lexington Woman magazine. Check it out below, or read it online on the magazine’s website.

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