Dealing with Angina

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
March 23, 2008 9:00:00 PM PDT
It's often said that women have different symptoms of a heart attack than do men. But a report in the journal "Circulation" says women not only have angina, which is chest pain from poor blood supply to the heart, just like men do, but they also have it more frequently. It looks like a cross between marine boot camp and Star Wars, but 64-year-old Debbie Tillis is exercising by hitting a blinking lights to strengthen her heart. Debbie had a heart attack 13 years ago, and now has angina chest pain from poor blood supply to the heart.

"It feels like tightness in your chest, and you wonder in your head, am I having another heart attack?" she said.

It's not another heart attack, but angina, which is pain that comes when parts of the heart muscle don't get enough blood. The new study says that angina pains are seen in women 20 percent more frequently than in men. Other studies show that women often don't get the follow tests that men get.

"They carry the same mortality as men, and in the future, they can have heart attacks and if not diagnosed properly on time," said Dr. Bharathi Reddy, with New York Hospital. "It may cause death."

Dr. Reddy says that this report emphasizes that doctors should send women with symptoms for stress testing just as they do men with the same symptoms. Exercises, during which Debbie's heart is carefully watched, can relieve angina symptoms.

The point of cardiac rehab is to stimulate new blood vessels to grow in the heart muscle and bring new blood supply to it.

In only three weeks of rehab and using her medication, Debbie saw a difference.

"My blood pressure is going down and I haven't had chest pain," she said.

"If you have any chest pain or simply feel pain on exertion during your daily activities, seek medical attention," Dr. Reddy advises.

Women who are having a heart attack often have symptoms different from a man. The goal is to get more women tested for heart problems when they have symptoms that are not classic.

For the warning signs of heart attacks, Click Here.