American Heart Month has arrived! This is an ideal time to remind you to focus on heart health and we encourage you to get your families, friends, and communities in on the conversation.
It may surprise you to know that half of the people that experience their first heart attack have normal cholesterol values. Cholesterol isn’t the only cause of heart attacks; inflammation can be a cause too.
Inflammation is a precursor to plaque formation, and over time, plaque hardens and narrows the arteries. Plaque accumulates and narrows the arteries limiting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to your body. Depending on which arteries are affected, obstruction and interference of blood flow can worsen angina (chest pain) or cause a heart attack or stroke.
At Modern Women’s Health, we recommend a Cleveland Heart Panel which assesses cardiovascular inflammation. This panel can indicate plaque instability or rupture and microvascular dysfunction. Less than 50% of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) occurs in people without significantly abnormal lipids. Vessel Inflammation is thought to be the reason. A CT heart scan evaluates the level of calcified plaque around coronary vessels, but not soft plaque. A carotid Doppler ultrasound checks circulation in the large arteries in your neck and can help determine if you have narrowing or changes in blood flow that can be seen with soft and calcified plaque.
So, how can you protect yourself from plaque formation? Adopting a low-inflammatory and low-processed food diet, exercising most days of the week, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce cardiovascular inflammation. Dental health has a correlation with heart health, so make sure you are brushing, flossing and getting your teeth cleaned every 6 months. We often recommend supplements such as Bergamot, Omega 3, Arterosil, and Berberine.
Numerous studies have also shown the importance of adopting hormone use early in menopause to reduce a woman's risk of developing heart disease. We here at Modern Women's Health are here to guide you through that process.
It’s important to be aware of the heart attack signs in women:
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest if it lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort. Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- The most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort, but women are more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
Even though heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, women often chalk up the symptoms to less life-threatening conditions like acid reflux, the flu or aging. Do not ignore any of the symptoms above. If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.
We are committed to keeping our patients healthy and want to help you reduce your chance of heart disease. Request an appointment to discuss your risk factors for heart disease and appropriate screening tests. Call us at (512) 301-6767 or click the link below.