Women & Heart Disease

By Gino Sedillo, MD, FACC, CardioVascular Solutions Institute   –

heartAt Cardiovascular Solutions Institute, Dr. Gino Sedillo treats almost as many women as men. The women treated by Dr. Sedillo range in age from 30 to 100. They present with symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, abdominal pain, dizziness, and edema (swelling). Some patients are found to have heart disease which Cardiovascular Solutions Institute manages along with the patient, through medical therapy or procedures. Others are diagnosed with related issues: Hypertension, PVD (Peripheral Vascular Disease), Carotid Artery Disease, Atrial Fibrillation, and Abdominal Aortic Aneurysms.

“Many patients comment on the caring attitude of the staff and they are happy with the outcome of their treatment” says Michelle Adams, (Practice Manager). Patient testimonials are available for viewing on our website: www.cardiovascularsolutionsinstitute.com.

What women need to know about heart disease:
In 2007, over 420,000 women died from heart disease. The American Heart Association’s Heart Disease and Stroke statistics for 2011 claim heart disease is the number one cause of death in American women. As a matter of fact, more women than men die of cardiovascular disease each year.

  • At age 40, the lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease is more than 1 in 2 women.
  • 64% of women who die suddenly from coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms.
  • 23% of women age 40 and older who have heart attacks die within a year compared to 18% of men.

Why does a woman’s risk of heart disease rise with age?
The loss of natural estrogen as women age (during and after menopause) may contribute to the higher risks of heart disease. Other factors that may play a role in postmenopausal risks of heart disease include:

  • Changes in the walls of the blood vessels, making it more likely for plaque and blood clots to form.
  • Changes in the level of fats in the blood (“bad” cholesterol increases and “good” cholesterol decreases).
  • Increases in fibrinogen levels (a substance in the blood that helps the blood to clot). Increased levels of blood fibrinogen are related to heart disease and stroke since it makes it more likely for blood clots to form, narrowing the arteries and reducing blood flow to the heart.

What can women do to reduce their risk for heart disease?
Women with the lowest risk of heart disease are those who:

  • Avoid or quit smoking.
  • Lose weight and/or maintain their ideal body weight.
  • Exercise for more than 30 minutes more than 3 times per week.
  • Follow a diet low in saturated fat with less than 7% daily; low in trans-fat (such as margarine, shortening or partially hydrogenated fats); high in fiber, whole grains, legumes (such as beans or peas), fruits, vegetables, and fish.
  • Treat and control medical conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure that are known risk factors for heart disease.

Recognizing female heart attack symptoms:
These chest-related heart attack signs often appear in men, and many women get them too:

  • Pressure, fullness or a squeezing pain in the center of the chest, which may spread to the neck, shoulder or jaw.
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.

But many women don’t have chest pain. Although women can have chest tightness as a symptom of a heart attack, it’s also important for women to recognize that might not be their symptom.

Some common female heart attack symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Unusual fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Lower chest discomfort
  • Below the shoulder pain
  • Upper abdominal pressure or discomfort (may feel like indigestion)

Learn about your local heart attack resources:
One of the most important ways you can advocate for yourself is doing research. Take action before you ever have a heart attack.

It’s important for women to do their homework regarding the hospitals in their neighborhoods. Find out which hospitals specialize in heart disease. Some questions for women to ask:

  • Does the hospital have a cardiac catheterization lab that performs procedures such as angioplasties and stents?
  • Is this “cath lab” available 24 hours, seven days a week?
  • Is there a coronary bypass surgery program?
  • Once a woman arrives in the emergency room with a heart attack, how quickly is she sent to the cath lab?
  • Can doctors open a blocked blood vessel within the acceptable range of 90 minutes?

Sources: American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, Boston Scientific, National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, and Texas Heart Institute.

Dr. Gino Sedillo, M.D. F.A.C.C.
Dr. Gino Sedillo, M.D. F.A.C.C. Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dr. Sedillo is Board Certified in Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Diseases and Interventional Cardiology, and has been a member of the American College of Cardiology since 1996. He completed his residency training for Internal Medicine at the University of Texas, where he was voted Intern of the Year and was selected Chief Medical Resident. He completed his Cardiology training at the Texas Heart Institute/ St. Lukes Hospital in Houston, Texas. He was elected Chief Interventional Fellow. Dr. Sedillo received additional specialization in Coronary and Peripheral Vascular Intervention as well as Pacemaker Implantation.

After 15 years of training, Dr. Sedillo started working for the Bradenton Cardiology Center in 1995. While there he performed more than 1,000 procedures per year and he began teaching procedures and techniques to other practicing cardiologists, vascular surgeons, and interventional radiologists. He served as Director of the cardiac catheterization lab at Manatee Memorial Hospital.

Most recently, in May 2011, Dr. Sedillo founded his independent practice, CardioVascular Solutions Institute, with offices in Sarasota and Bradenton. Since then Dr. Sedillo has been named director of the Percutaneous Coronary Intervention program at Doctors Hospital in Sarasota.

When he’s not seeing patients, teaching other physicians or doing clinical research, Sedillo cherishes time with his three children.

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