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KCRW: Heart Disease—Screen Promptly, Especially if You Have Family History

KCRW program Press Play recently featured Noel Bairey Merz, MD, director of the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center in the Smidt Heart Institute, to discuss heart disease and heart attacks in women.

Bairey Merz told Press Play host Madeleine Brand that a heart attack can result from heart disease, the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. She added that women die of heart attacks more often than men.

“It’s probably a combination of not being diagnosed … as promptly as we do men,” Bairey Merz told Brand. “And then also unique risk factors that we’ve studied extensively that do put women at higher risk. They can get into more trouble with a smaller amount of plaque because their arteries are smaller.”

Bairey Merz told Brand that people who have a family history of heart disease could potentially avoid a future heart attack by speaking with a healthcare provider about risk factors, preventive care and screening tests.

One out of four of us is going to die of heart disease in our lifetime,” she told Brand. “And it's much higher than breast cancer for women. So, if people just count on getting heart disease in their lifetime, we should all be taking preventive steps.”

Bairey Merz told Brand she is working on a health initiative to help the public better recognize the signs of a heart attack, which could be as subtle as unusual indigestion or heartburn.

“A simple adage is, anything above the belly button that is not common for you,” she said.

Click here to listen to the complete segment from KCRW.