At the Sklar Center for Restorative Medicine, we are aware that heart health has traditionally been marketed to men. But, as this article shows, heart health for women is even more important due to the fact that heart attacks are twice as deadly for women (based on a study from the Acute Cardiac Care Congress).
There are a number of reasons this might be true. The most important thing to consider is that heart attacks happen because we are not evaluating and treating the real reasons for cardiovascular disease in men or women. It is appalling that women do not get as aggressive pharmaceutical treatment post-heart attack. It is especially appalling that following a heart attack, referrals for cardiac rehabilitation occur only half as often for women as men. But, honestly, by that time the horse is out of the barn. This is what we call “rescue medicine.” When someone has a heart attack, it means that we have missed the opportunity to intervene in a preventable event.
A heart attack doesn’t happen overnight. Like all chronic disease, it is years in the making. Using cholesterol measurements to evaluate risk gives us false information. This is especially true for women. Half the people that have heart attacks had normal cholesterol levels. Cholesterol numbers aren’t the disease, yet they are what doctors use to determine who is at highest risk. Ruptured inflammatory plaque in the blood vessels is the disease. There are ways to directly evaluate plaque in your blood vessels as well as to evaluate the level of inflammation in them. Diabetes and high blood sugar levels are a root cause of this type of inflammation and needs evaluation as well.
Whether you are a man or a woman, it is important to have the proper type of cardiovascular evaluation and treatment. There are a few centers that take the root cause approach. Real prevention can eliminate many heart attacks. We need to advocate for prevention rather than rescue in all areas of our health. This means taking charge, getting the right information and taking action.