Heart Health and Women
Host, Gerry Barnaby- Hey, what’s happening? Barnaby here—another HelloLife Moment, this one specifically about women’s heart health. Dr. Jeffrey Chamberlain, you probably have seen in the course of your practice over recent years an increase in the number of women with heart problems.
Health Coach, Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD- Yeah. Women with heart problems and heart disease is really on the rise. There’s way more women nowadays with it than there was back 20, 30 years ago.
Barnaby- And we all have to scratch our heads about that, because—well, I guess when you think about it, men used to just go to work, work and work and probably go out for drinks after work, not living a great lifestyle, and now women suddenly are straddling a fence: they’re working, and they’re also running the household, and so a lot of stress, a lot of eating on the go, so they’re right in the same boat with men.
Dr. Chamberlain- Exactly, and that’s really—a lot of it has to do with lifestyle differences between now and 30, 40 years ago.
Barnaby- So, the ultimate payoff, in a negative sense, with bad heart health is the heart attack. Women—I’ve understood through literature that they don’t exhibit the same sort of signs of a heart attack as men. It’s masked in some ways.
Dr. Chamberlain- Yeah, a lot of time women don’t have the classic symptoms, the classic symptoms being kind of a crushing chest pain, usually more on the left side of the chest, pain radiating up to the shoulder and the neck, and then that going along with sweating, and then usually the symptoms getting worse with activity, better with rest—those are the classic signs of a heart attack, although women tend to have those classic signs less often. They can have them, but a lot of times their pain is somewhere else, either sometimes I’ve seen it on the right side, or it’s just more of a vague pain. I’ve seen it more of an epigastric or kind of in the upper stomach pain, versus actually in the chest itself. And so sometimes it’s harder to tell if the woman is having a heart attack or not than it is for a man.
Barnaby- I find that so odd, because really, as far as the heart and arterial system goes, we’re pretty much carbon copies, man and woman. Why is it? Is there any sort of inkling as to why the symptoms might be different?
Dr. Chamberlain- I don’t know. Women are complicated, I guess.
Barnaby- Who can understand? That’s just two dudes talking, of course, right here. But still…all right, so what about—the preventative measures would certainly be the same: diet, exercise…
Dr. Chamberlain- Yeah, diet and exercise are the main key. Getting our blood pressure under control, making sure our cholesterol is under control, being at a healthy weight—those are the main things that we can do to help prevent it. Not smoking is another huge one. Women with hormone replacement, taking estrogen with menopause is a pretty complicated issue. The rate of heart attacks drastically increases after menopause for women.
Dr. Chamberlain- Cholesterol levels usually bump up a little bit after menopause. But then taking estrogen or hormone replacement therapy can actually increase the chance of a heart attack compared to women who don’t take it. So it’s kind of a really complicated issue for women.
Barnaby-Seems like they can’t win, because post-menopausal, numbers go up—have the hormone replacement, it goes up even further. So what would you do? Bear down on a much healthier diet?
Dr. Chamberlain- Exactly. Having very healthy lifestyle changes, and then just keeping the blood pressure under good control, keeping the cholesterol under good control also.
Barnaby- All right, and make sure the husband, who’s probably approaching retirement, plays a lot of golf, so he’s out of your hair. That’s stress reduction. All right, another good session with Dr. Jeffrey Chamberlain here on the HelloLife Network, where you’re invited to give us your anecdotal experiences about what we’re talking about, because we love the fact that everybody has different life experiences, and in this day and age of social media, we’re all very willing to share. So HelloLife.net is the point of embarkation.