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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: Eat Right!

LMC dietitian Donna Quirk, a regular contributor to our “Ask the Dietitian” blog posts, was a guest on WIS-TV last week with a delicious and healthy recipe for chocolate pudding that incorporates chia seeds. She also talked about the health benefits of flax and chia seeds, from antioxidants to fiber. Learn more in the link below.

And here’s the recipe for “Chocolate Chia Pudding.”

6 Tbsp chia seeds
1 1/2 cup Almond Milk
3 Tbsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
6 Tbsp Agave Nectar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Combine all ingredients, whisking together until cocoa powder absorbs. Refrigerate for four hours, or overnight.

The chia seeds will absorb the liquid from the mixture. The texture of the finished product will be similar to tapioca pudding. You can also put all ingredients in the food processor for a smoother dish, similar to a chocolate mousse.

FREE, Fun Heart Fair This Weekend!

When was the last time you had your blood pressure checked? Did you know that relaxation exercises help your heart? What’s the proper way to perform CPR? Come to Lexington Medical Center’s FREE interactive Heart Fair on Sunday, March 1 from 12:00–4:00 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton at 2100 Bush River Road in Columbia to learn about your heart health. The event is free and open to the public.

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Find out how to reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by participating in free activities, such as massage therapy, healthy food tastings, blood pressure screenings, Citizen CPR lessons and relaxation training. You’ll discover the latest cardiovascular technologies used in diagnostic, interventional and surgical procedures. You can also hear from Lexington Medical Center physicians and clinicians as they discuss heart-health topics. The Heart Fair includes activities for children, too. Kids can learn how to grow vegetables and begin spring planting.

shutterstock_200040200The Heart Fair marks the culmination of Lexington Medical Center’s “Take 5 for Heart Health” campaign, encouraging community members to take time for their heart health with five key elements: Eat Right, Chill Out, Get Moving, Call 911 and Know the Facts. Lexington Medical Center partnered with Midlands businesses to provide free heart health events including exercise classes and stress relief activities throughout the month of February.

The idea was to educate our community about heart health and encourage people to lead a heart-healthy life through exercise, education and minimizing stress. Heart disease is an epidemic in South Carolina. One out of every three deaths in our state is related to cardiovascular disease.

The campaign also included Lexington Medical Center’s 2015 heart commercial. The 60 second spot, produced entirely in-house by Lexington Medical Center, personifies a heart attack and illustrates the stories of three heart attack victims. View the commercial below.

For more information on Lexington Medical Center’s Heart Fair, visit www.LexMed.com/Take5.