Matters of the Heart

Heart in the palm of a handFebruary is all about romantic dinners, roses and chocolate. Yet, your heart might still long for something more, like a checkup. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. During American Heart Month, set a date with your doctor.

Surprising Stats

A recent survey of 1,011 women published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology, revealed the following:

  • 26% said they were embarrassed about having heart disease because they thought it was linked solely to their weight
  • 40% saw a doctor in the past year, but their visit didn’t include a heart assessment
  • 45% didn’t know heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women
  • 45% said they canceled or postponed a doctor’s appointment because they wanted to lose weight first
  • 63% said they sometimes put off a visit to the doctor

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According to these numbers, heart disease isn’t a major concern among women. As a result, they may not be getting the care they need to help prevent or treat heart disease.

“Medical visits help modify risk factors,” explained Ancy Maruthanal, MD, an internal medicine doctor and Club W’s medical director. “They give your doctor the opportunity to check your blood pressure, listen to your heart and order tests, if necessary. Early detection is really important.”

Three Heart Disease Facts

Dr. Ancy wants every woman to know:

  • Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.
  • You can modify your risk factors with weight loss and exercise.
  • A Mediterranean diet is great for heart health.

Don’t “Weight”

Postponing a medical appointment to lose weight can be a dangerous decision. Excess weight increases your risk of heart disease, even more so when combined with other health conditions. When you skip appointments, you could miss early warning signs.

“It’s disappointing to see the numbers on the scale rise with age and menopause,” Dr. Ancy said. “But, you have to start somewhere. Use the doctor’s visit as your starting point. Make it a goal to lose those extra pounds by the next visit. At the very least, set a goal to become physically stronger and start an exercise plan. Sometimes, we focus so much on the number that we don’t realize we are creating muscle and our clothes are fitting better.”

Be Open

Many women withhold health concerns from their doctor out of embarrassment or fear of bothering the doctor with something minor. Keeping mum during your visit can hurt your health. “Honesty is always the best policy,” Dr. Ancy said. “As women, we have to be there for our families. If we don’t take care of our health, we can’t do that. Doctors don’t mind listening to your health concerns. Even if you feel it’s minor, we want to know about it because it may be part of a bigger issue.”

If your doctor doesn’t specifically ask about your heart during a checkup, mention it. Tell your doctor if you have palpitations, chest pain or a strong family history of heart disease.

Whether you need emergent heart care or just some help managing your heart health, North Kansas City Hospital can help. Explore our heart care services and find a Meritas Health cardiologist.

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North Kansas City Hospital offers two simple and affordable ways to check your heart health:

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