Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"In The News" with Panda...

Interesting article in USA Today about mortality rates in women who suffer heart attacks.  Full article is here.  I'll just touch on a few things because I found this article to be rather scary.  My comments are in blue.

Women are less likely to get immediate treatment to stop the heart attack in its tracks: clot-busting drugs, balloon procedures to open the arteries or bypass surgery, the study says. Partly because of such delays, 15% of female heart attack patients die in the hospital, compared with 10% of men.  That's a HUGE disparity between men and women and they are just now studying why this is???

The study actually may underestimate the gender gap, because many female heart attacks never make it to the hospital, says Cam Patterson, chief of cardiology at theUniversity of North Carolina-Chapel Hill,  Even scarier!

Forty-two percent of women never experience the classic heart attack symptom of chest pain or pressure, compared with 31% of men, the study says.  I always just assumed that these were a given when having a heart attack but not on. Women without chest pain may develop shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, light-headedness and pain in the back or jaw, according to the American Heart Association. 

Women who develop sudden, crippling fatigue — such as the feeling that they can't tidy the kitchen without a rest — may face imminent danger of a heart attack.  Really?  This is the example - the little woman can't clean the kitchen without getting tired???  How sexist is this article getting?!?!

Doctors or emergency responders may not take women's symptoms seriously, says Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York and an American Heart Association spokeswoman.  "Women are coming in saying they're nauseous, they're fatigued, they're sweating, and doctors say, 'You're fine,' " she says. "Doctors will say it's anxiety and it's all in your head."  Oh yeah...the hypochondriac, delirious woman who can't tell when something is seriously wrong with her.

"We have a tendency to downplay what we're feeling," Steinbaum says. "If you say to your doctors, 'It's probably in my head,' then the person who is listening starts dismissing it. If you think you're having a heart attack, say it. And if you're wrong, then you're wrong."  I like that they include this in the article.  Because it's not always the big bad doctor downplaying our symptoms.  Many times, we do it to ourselves.  We must be advocates for our own health!  It's our bodies...WE know when something isn't right!  

I know many of us looked into WLS for health issues...either we already had comorbidities or we wanted to avoid them.  I think it's sad in this day and age that women still don't feel empowered about their health and doctors STILL don't realize that men and women are different and can often experience different symptoms that relate to the same problem. February is Heart a gentle reminder that losing weight is not just about fitting into the jeans or numbers on a scale - it's about a true improvement in health and our well being.  

Stepping off soapbox....


A.J. said...

I am the world's worst at 'downplaying' symptoms. I have often said that I am the polar opposite of a hypochondriac. One of my biggest fears is that I will ignore a headache or a stomach cramp or something bc I don't want to be an alarmist and will ultimately end up really sick because I ignored it.

Chris said...

I worked in a cardiovascular ICU for almost 9 years in the 1990's - women who came in emergently tended to say the same thing: I didn't want to bother, I figured it was indigestion or something and I should just lay down.

I think we do tend to see the consequences to others as a higher priority - whereas a man would immediately think: OMG I NEED HELP NOW!! a woman thinks: hmm, if I do call an ambulance, then DH's dinner won't be ready, the kids will have to be taken care of, etc etc....

Let's decide now to know our own bodies, recognize when something's not right, and GET HELP! Steinbaum is right - 'then if you're wrong, you're wrong.' I would add "but at least you're still alive!"

chloes_countdown said...

Amen, sista! loved this post.
I've learned with my daughter - you HAVE to be the loudest, pushiest advocate for your own health.

RockBand Barbie said...

I heard this same story on the news last night. My mother has had two heart attacks and didn't have the classic symptoms with either. She had her first bypass when she was in her 40's and she actually went to numerous doctors before one even thought it was heart. The rest of the doctors told her it was just age, depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome...among other things. It turned out that she needed triple bypass surgery. Thanks for posting this :)

Anonymous said...

I had a dr for years that blew me off on just about everything. The last time he told me it was all in my head I said FU and found another docotr.
BTW- I had mono and an enlarged spleen. Yup, that pain I kept mentioning that was all in my head was my spleen. And yes, I guess I was feeling run down and maybe all my lymp nodes were swollen for a reason.
found a new doctor and love her. If we don't look out for ourselves no one else will either.

Holly from 300 Pounds Down said...

My mom had a lot of heart problems and ultimately she died of heart problems coupled with a stroke. It was very heartbreaking. Thanks for pointing out this article. I'm really glad you made the point that losing weight isn't just about the jean size. You're so right about that!! When you said that it really made me think about it all over again. It's so much more important than just the superficial!