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Jewish Journal: Keeping Women's Hearts Healthy

The Jewish Journal’s Debra L. Eckerling recently interviewed Janet Wei, MD, a cardiologist in the Smidt Heart Institute’s Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center, about women’s heart health.

As the article explains, Wei and her colleagues are focused on educating women about heart health because heart disease is the leading cause of death in women in the United States. Women need to be aware particularly because they can experience different heart disease symptoms than men and some physicians may rule out heart disease too quickly, Wei told the Jewish Journal.

“Around half of the women who have symptoms of ischemia (chest discomfort and shortness of breath) and undergo an angiogram (an X-ray of the blood vessels), actually do not have any major blockages in their arteries,” Wei told the Jewish Journal. “In the past, [they] have been given a pat on their back and told their chest pain is not due to [their] heart.”

In those cases, Wei advised women to be pro-active and ask their doctors to do what is necessary to get to the root of the problem. That could include more extensive testing or even having the doctor take a closer look at their angiogram, Wei told the Jewish Journal.

Wei also addressed the issue of younger women dying from heart attacks. “We want women to be aware that just because you’re young, doesn’t mean you are not likely to have a heart attack,” she said.

Wei said the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center recommends that women regularly exercise, see their physician and eat a heart-healthy, Mediterranean-style diet. Any moderate aerobic activity at least 30 minutes, five times a week helps reduce the risk of a stroke, heart attack and heart failure, Wei said.

A Mediterranean diet, Wei said, includes five to six servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and includes whole grains (wheat bread, brown rice) rather than simple, processed carbohydrates (cookies, cakes, white pasta). Also healthy: nuts, avocados, olive oil and fish.

“Over 80 percent of heart disease is preventable,” Wei said. “Go see your doctor. Understand what your risk factors are.”

Click here to read the complete Jewish Journal article. 

Read more on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Matters of the Heart: Women’s Heart Health