THE 4-28-03 EDITION OF TIME MAG!!!!.....

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
THE 4-28-03 EDITION OF TIME MAG!!!!.....
9
Mon, 04-28-2003 - 12:18pm
AT LONG LAST!!!!!!! There is an in-depth, informative, and very accurate article regarding Women and Heart disease. It is the BEST one I have seen to date. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, my friends with heart trouble (or who think they may have it) go out and get this one issue of TIME and KUDOS to them for the fine job they did with it!!!

Marty

(a RARE AND LUCKY 9+ year survivor)
Avatar for cl_themummy2001
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Mon, 04-28-2003 - 3:52pm
Thanks, Marty!

I'll pick up a copy tonight! There's so much NON-information (or mis-information!) about women's heart health issues...I'm glad Time decided to do a GOOD article! Can't wait to read it! Thanks again!

Love and (((hugs))),

Linda.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Mon, 04-28-2003 - 9:51pm
There's little there that I haven't already seen in other places, but it's nice to have it pulled together in a mass-media publication with a wide audience, as opposed to the medical sites that women (myself included) tend not to see until AFTER we start having problems. It is obviously most important that both women in the general population and people in the medical community know these things, recognize heart disease symptoms in women and treat it promptly and properly.

That said, I have to say I'm getting increasingly ticked off at the notion we can "prevent" heart disease or "protect ourselves." All we can do is REDUCE our risk. We cannot ELIMINATE the risk. To pretend otherwise is to mislead people ... and from there it is not a large step to blame the victim for her condition.

Maybe I'm just touchy right now, but the implication of these and other stories seems to be that if you end up with the condition, it's your own fault. Yet all the specific recommendations in the article -- daily exercise, don't smoke, make sure you have normal blood pressure and HDL over 60, maintain a healthy weight -- I either did or had, and still ended up with a major artery blockage and stent in my early 40s. I am very fortunate that my doctors recognized the seriousness of my symptoms and understood what they were; but as for actually getting heart disease, I think I was simply unlucky despite a lifestyle that should have "protected" me. Let's help those who can protect themselves with lifestyle changes, without assuming that's all of us.


Avatar for cl_themummy2001
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Mon, 04-28-2003 - 10:31pm
Boy, do I ever know what you're talking about!

After I had my heart attack at the age of 36 (and I was a nurse, in good health, and had all the necessary tests done PRIOR to my heart attack - because I have a family history of cardiac problems!), I was genuinely surprized at how LITTLE info there was for women about cardiac disease! You're right...we can't PREVENT having heart disease.....we can only lower the risk! It IS good, though, that a major news mag has decided to pull everything together! Maybe some women who know they MAY have some risks will take some pro-active care of themselves! No, we aren't responsible for our genetic make-up....OR the fact that some of us are just unlucky enough to GET heart disease! But I think that ANY method of making women aware that they're at risk can't be all bad! I agree that we should ALL help each other in learning about every aspect of heart disease we can......but some folks just need to SEE all that we've learned through experience written in a major mag to believe it! That's sad, but it's true! I think there's room for all information regarding this killer-of-women! As long as the word gets out that someone is at risk (and that someone actually reads/listens/etc.!), then it can't be all bad, right?! I agree that some of us already know the risks. But so many women don't! I say we try to educate everyone we can.....in any WAY we can!

Love and (((hugs))),

Linda.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 04-29-2003 - 12:44am
"That said, I have to say I'm getting increasingly ticked off at the notion we can "prevent" heart disease or "protect ourselves." All we can do is REDUCE our risk. We cannot ELIMINATE the risk. To pretend otherwise is to mislead people ... and from there it is not a large step to blame the victim for her condition."

I totally agree with you...and I feel so terrible for the patients (men and women) I see in my ER who are dumbfounded at their condition after a lifetime of "doing everything right". Its true that all of those things you mentioned can only reduce the risk - it doesn't account for the uncontrollable things like genetics, or the poorly understood things like stress, or all of the factors that we've simply not yet uncovered.

`
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Registered: 04-21-2003
Tue, 04-29-2003 - 6:36am
I completely agree! The number of patients I see who ask quite specifically why they're sitting there being told their diagnosis when they've lived their whole life healthily, done "everything they're supposed to". And that's when I have to talk to them about RISK and the fact that noone starts off at zero risk and builds up their risk, that all of us have an underlying risk factor which we increase by smoking/stress/lack of exercise/obesity/diabetes etc but that is also increased by genetic risk and stress, both of which are harder to measure. One patient particularly springs to mind - he was young, fit, never smoked, ate well, wasn't diabetic, and had a healthy, active, if stressful job. His major risk factor was genetic and his heart attack was huge.

It's certainly interesting to see that the same message seems to be going out to the general population both in the UK and the USA that "if you do it all right, you won't get heart disease" ... only what that fails to mention is that coronary artery disease can begin as young as 4 years old and that this disease is lifelong in it's buildup.

What is interesting though, is that plenty of people know the majority of the risk factors (smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise) and still the patients I see seem surprised that it "could happen to them". Perhaps that needs to be the next health promotion message that goes out!

Someone talked about the danger of a blame culture being put upon patients who have 'caused' their own problem (I'm sorry, cant remember who said it, but know i read it!). My experience is that those patients with a high risk lifestyle (e.g. smoking, high alcohol intake, obese etc) tend to realise that their risk has been increased to some degree by their lifestyle, and some are realistic enough to say that they enjoy that lifestyle and won't be changing it, whereas for others this is the beginning of something new. I hope that the way it is put across where I work isn't a blame culture, but more informing patients of their risk and how risk can be reduced, as part of cardiac rehabilitation and secondary prevention, as opposed to blame for previous heart attack/need for stenting etc. Our whole message to patients is "we can't change the fact that you have had a heart attack, but we can help to prevent you having another one".

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Tue, 04-29-2003 - 7:22am
Yes, thanks, that's the other problem I have with the "you can prevent heart disease" message that seems to be out there, instead of the "you can lower your odds of getting heart disease:" It sure does make patients feel bad when we believe we "did everything right" -- followed all the expert advice we were given -- but it didn't work.

Cautioning people that they can "follow all the rules" yet still get heart disease may make it less likely that people lead "healthier" lifestyles. From my perspective: Too bad. Truth is better than misleading people. And it could make it a little less painful for the people who DID live a decently healthy lifestyle and got heart disease, while people around them who are obese or smoking or never exercise seem to be fine.

I think the other message that ought to be stressed is that, if you lead a healthier lifestyle and still get heart disease, it can still help slow the progression of the disease and make it more likely that you'll survive with a better quality of life. That's an important message for those who are likely to be depressed and angry after the unexpected happens -- because once you've done what you're told and get a bad outcome anyway, well, why bother listening to anything anyone tells you to do medically about your lifestyle?

I know someone who had a heart attack after "doing everything right" and of course she was angry and disappointed. But her cardiologist told her that she might not have survived it if she wasn't otherwise in such good shape. That's an important thing to hear. I choose to believe that my situation would have been worse if I hadn't been exercising, if I'd been overweight, if I'd been smoking, etc. I don't know if that's true or not, but it makes things a little easier to deal with.

OK, I'll get off this rant now!

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-21-2003
Tue, 04-29-2003 - 9:53am
Rant away!

You make an important point. Yes, people might well follow all the healthy lifestyle 'rules' and still suffer with heart disease. The important thing to remember is that by minimising their risks, they suffer aged 40/50/60/70 and not 30/35, the size of heart attack may be reduced, and their rehabilitation is easier and perhaps the quality of life they lead after their heart attack is better than it might otherwise have been. Or, as is sometimes the case, they survive.

The problem is that general health promotion messages, people will only ever hear what they want to hear. People who are likely to lead healthy lifestyles, will do so anyway, and those who aren't, will ignore the information they are given until it affects them personally (and even then some of them continue to ignore rehabilitation information and advice). Unfortunately, it's those people who do all the wrong things that seem to have the lucky escapes and be the exception that proves the rule. The problem is that heart disease isn't something that can be compared person to person. Everyone has a different underlying level of risk, it's only our own personal risks that we can address and deal with.

Anger and frustration and depression are very common and well documented after heart attacks and 'close calls' (occlusion, angioplasty and stenting) and certainly the messages that health professionals give in the initial stages and at follow ups can be very important in reducing those feelings and giving people an opportunity to talk through the things that worry them. And given that stress is an important risk factor for coronary heart disease, all health professionals should be aware of the impact of psychological stress on future risk.

Think I'm up on my soap box again, but this is certainly giving me things to think about!

Hope you're well

Silver xx

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Fri, 05-02-2003 - 8:08am
Thanks for the support! And yes, I'm happy to say that I'm doing much better. I went back to my cardiologist this week, and my stress test went well, no signs of ischemia. So that was good news! I'm awaiting results of my blood work, hoping my cholesterol is down. Learning to live with heart-healthy eating -- some times are harder than others, sometimes it's already becoming a new habit -- as well as the thoughts from time to time of what happened and what might happen in the future. I'm well aware that I have it a lot easier than someone who's recovering from a heart attack ... but the 90+% blockage and angioplasty were more than enough for me right now.
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-21-2003
Sat, 05-03-2003 - 8:46pm
That's fantastic news! I'm really pleased for you! Must be such a relief for you. Lifestyle changes take time, but it's good to hear that you feel you're getting there with dietary changes. Glad the stress test went well! Thanks for the update.

Take care

Silver xx