HOW HEART DISEASE IN WOMEN IS DETECTED
Since heart disease affects women very differently than men, doctors often look for different signs and symptoms on these tests. Also, there are ways the technician can take to make these screenings safer (and minimize your radiation exposure, for example). So be sure to ask your doctor about any precautionary steps.
SCREENINGS YOUR DOCTOR MAY RECOMMEND
- EKG: An electrocardiogram tracks your heart’s electrical activity, which controls they rhythm of your heartbeat. The EKG shows how fast your heart is beating, the strength of the electrical signals and whether or not your heartbeat is steady. Doctors use an EKG to detect a wide variety of heart issues including an arrhythmia, heart attack and heart failure.
- Echocardiogram: This test uses sound waves to create a live image of your heart so your doctor can see your heart beating as well as your heart valves and chambers. An echo is a non-invasive test that allows your doctor to get a closer look at your heart and check for issues, including damage to the heart muscle (from a heart attack, for example), atrial fibrillation, a heart murmur and congenital heart disease.
- Stress test: The traditional form of this screening is an exercise stress test which monitors how well your heart works while you’re exercising on a treadmill or stationary bike. One key is seeing how your cardiovascular system responds when you exercise at a high intensity. Also available are pharmacological stress tests, in which you take a drug that has the same effect on your heart as exercise. Nuclear imaging, in which a small amount of a radioactive liquid is injected into your bloodstream, measures blood flow and heart activity when you’re at rest and active. This type of test is also used to detect damage to the heart muscle or circulation/blood flow isssues.
- Angiogram: This test takes an X-ray of your blood vessels to check how well blood is flowing through them and can pick up any blockages.
HOW WE CAN HELP
Our Women’s Heart Program clinicians have a special interest in helping women in the community to actively optimize their heart health. To make an appointment with one of our women’s heart health physicians, contact the Katz Institute for Women’s Health Resource Center at (855) 850 KIWH ( 5494).