Although both women and men are at risk of developing heart disease, it is now clear that women are more likely to be misdiagnosed and under-diagnosed when compared to males. The CBC recently wrote an interesting article from research published by the Heart and Stroke Foundation in early 2018. The report states “Early heart attack signs are missed in about 78 per cent of women.” These results are significant as it is well known that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women. In fact, women are 5 times more likely to die from heart disease then they are from breast cancer. Women are unnecessarily suffering and dying from heart disease.
There are many reasons why women are falling under the radar when it comes to heart health. It is well known that when compared to men, women are less likely to experience the cardinal symptoms of “It feels like I have an elephant sitting on my chest”. Rather heart attack signs in women are often more subtle or vague, described as extreme fatigue, nausea, jaw pain, or simply just not feeling themselves.
In addition, about two thirds of heart disease research focuses on men only. Although there are many similarities between a man and a woman’s heart, there are also significant differences. Women’s hearts are smaller and beat faster. However, looking at the heart itself is not the whole story, and is why many women are undiagnosed. Birth control, female cycles, menopause, and pregnancies all play a role in the long-term health of the female heart.
Often times the body will produce “warning signs” in the blood long before people (both men and women) will developed symptoms of a heart event. A new blood test being offered by the NDs at IHC, ordered through Lifelabs, has been developed to predict an individual’s risk of a cardiac event in the next 5 years. This is an excellent opportunity to practice preventive medicine and lower one’s risk of developing heart disease.
The PULS Cardiac Test measures specific proteins in the blood associated with active unstable lesion formation, and when combined with established clinical risk factors, predicts whether a cardiac lesion could rupture within a 5 year period. It is approved for both females and males.
Although not all cardiac events can be prevented, it is estimated that far greater than 50% of all heart events can be prevented. The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s article highlights this necessity especially among the female population.
We are eager at the Integrated Health Clinic to help decrease cardiac events in both females and males. If you are interested in this test, or in heart health care, please discuss with your naturopathic doctor at the Integrated Health Clinic.
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Dr. Karen McGee, ND and Dr. Erin Rurak, ND