What is the number one killer of women? Breast Cancer? No. Heart Disease is the number one killer of women.
In women, risks for heart disease increase 2 to 3 times after menopause. It's believed that high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and fat around the abdomen may contribute to this increase. Many women do NOT seek medical attention in a timely fashion because they're not sure it's a heart attack. The most common symptoms of a heart attack are:
- chest discomfort and shortness of breath
- jaw or neck pain
- pain in arms
- light-headedness or dizziness
- cold sweats.
There have been many advancements in treatment options for heart disease that are currently provided at Ann Arbor's major hospitals: The University of Michigan Medical Center and The Saint Joseph Mercy Health System.
1. The Angel Med Guardian is an implanted device that monitors for specific and rapid changes in the hearts electrical signal, alerting the patient to seek medical attention.
Coronary Artery Disease, another term used for heart attack is caused by a build-up of plaque in the coronary vessels. These vessels supply oxygen to the heart. The plaque continues to grow and causes a narrowing of the artery walls preventing this oxygen-rich blood from getting to the heart
2. Another device, the EndoSure Wireless AAA Pressure Management System, has also been cleared by the FDA. This device is made by CardioMEMS and has already shown a 38% reduction in heart-related hospitalizations in the first year. These findings were reported by The Ohio State University and theAmerican Heart Association.
This tiny device (about the width of a dime) does not rely on batteries but rather a radio frequency wand that the patient passes over their chest. Within about a mere seven minutes, the device (that has a sensor) is implantedthrough a catheter into the heart's pulmonary artery. The patient is instructed on how to pass the wand over their chest from home on a daily basis. Data such as heart pressure is sent through the Internet to their physician. The physician can analyze the data from a computer or hand-held device, and make changes and recommendationsaccordingly, reducing the need for frequent hospitalizations. In the past those hospitalizations were assessed at around 18 billion dollars a year.
This new device could potentially help heart patients increase their independence while the medical industry could save millions, or possibly billions, in emergency room visits.
Of course, the best medicine is prevention. If you have a family history, or not, of heart disease, it's always a good idea to talk with your physician about a heart healthy lifestyle. Cholesterol screening is now recommended for children.
Eat a diet high in fresh produce, whole grains and legumes. Get-up and move instead of sitting in front of a computer or television for long periods of time. Explore reasons for unhealthy stress in your life and get help if needed.
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