Who have you seen more recently, your primary care physician or your gynecologist? For many women, unless they have a specific health concern, the answer may be gynecologist. Fears of cervical, ovarian, and breast cancer may drive women to be more tuned into their gynecological health and more likely to keep up with yearly pelvic exams and mammograms '" although the reality is that twice as many women are likely to die from cardiovascular disease than from every other cancer combined.
When is the last time your received a notice in the mail that it's time for your annual lipid panel? When was the last postcard sent to you from your local cardiologist stating at the next visit he wants to see that you've scheduled your blood work.
A team of researchers at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Peoria wondered if it might be effective to bring the ob-gyn community of doctors into the fight against women's heart disease. The early results of the Women's Heart Health Initiative, which began in October 2010 and is still ongoing, were presented in May at the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI) annual meeting by lead researcher Sudhir Mungee, MD, an interventional cardiologist at HeartCare Midwest and an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of Illinois (Peoria).
"Unfortunately, women have more heart disease than men," says Dr. Mungee. "There is a lack of awareness, even among physicians." Let this note be added - this isn't new, more women than men have died from heart disease for the past twenty years. Yet, over the last twenty years breast cancer has become on the forefront of all of our minds. Today, I cleaned my bathroom mirrors with a product that had the pink ribbon on it. Amazing.
Maybe we do listen to our gynecologists more than other doctors. So I am with Dr. Mungee and his colleagues on the three-part screening survey for patients to receive when visiting their ob/gyns, which would assess a wide range of heart disease risk factors.
Dr. Mungee or not - if you don't get your heart right, it might not matter about your chances for others cancers. And if you have heart disease, a diagnosis of breast cancer is one more blow you and your body doesn't need.
What's your cholesterol? Really what is your LDL? What is your HDL? How does that measure up with all your risk factors? Can you answer that?