February is Women's Heart Health Month

Santa Monica, CA, January 25, 2007 --(PR.com)-- If you ask a group of women what is the most serious threat to their health, most will respond “breast cancer.” And they would be wrong. Heart Disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States, taking more lives than all the cancers combined. The statistics are alarming:

• 2.5 million US women are hospitalized for cardiovascular illness each year.
• 500,000 women die each year from cardiovascular disease (vs. 446,000 men.)
• 1 in 2 women will die of cardiovascular disease.
• Every 30 seconds 1 woman in the US dies from CV disease.

Dr. Kathy Magliato, Director of Women’s Cardiac Surgical Services at St. John’s Medical Center in Santa Monica, CA. is one of the few female cardiothoracic surgeons in the world. She is on a mission to educate women about heart disease and strongly believes that a cardiac exam should be part of a women’s preventative health routine, just like an annual PAP smear and mammogram.

According to Dr. Magliato every women needs to know what cardiovascular disease is, what the risk factors are, why more women than men die of the disease and what you can do to minimize your risk of heart disease.

Dr. Magliato is available during the month of February for in-studio and phone interviews. Her bio and a fact sheet on heart health follow.

Heart Disease Fact Sheet

Director, Women’s Cardiac Surgical Services
Saint John’s Medical Center

Heart Disease is an epidemic among women. As the number one killer of women, heart disease kills more women than all cancers… combined.

For Women Today, The Best Defense Against Heart Disease Is Knowledge.

1) 2.5 million women are hospitalized for cardiovascular disease each year
2) More women than men die from heart disease and yet most people believe that heart disease is a disease of men. 500,000 women died last year from cardiovascular disease compared to 446,000 men.
3) 1 in 2.4 women will die of heart disease.
4) Every 30 seconds, a women dies of cardiovascular disease in the United States.
5) 4% of women die of breast cancer and 44% of women die of heart disease and yet if you ask 100 women – “what is the most common killer of women?”- 90 or more will say “breast cancer”.
6) More women die of heart disease than breast cancer at ALL ages. Heart disease is not just a disease of old women. Even at the ages of 25 to 44, which is the age that women most commonly get breast cancer, more women still die of heart disease in this age group.

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease consists of high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, rheumatic heart disease (disease of the heart valves) and atherosclerosis (coronary artery disease). Of these, atherosclerosis kills the most women – approximately 250,000 per year.

What are the risk factors for coronary artery disease/heart disease?
1. age:
a. any woman over the age of 55 is at risk

2. family history:
a. must be a parent or sibling with heart disease over the age of 55, if it’s a male relative and 65, if it’s a female relative. Your grandmother who died of a heart attack at age 80 doesn’t count, for example.

3. high blood pressure:
a. effects 2.5 million women
b. occurs in 50% of ALL women over the age of 55.
c. is 2.5 times more likely to effect African American women
d. Since it is the “silent killer”, most women walk around with high blood pressure without ever knowing it

4. cigarette smoking:
a. heart attack risk is 2-6 times greater in smokers
b. second hand smoke increases your risk of heart disease by 30%
c. women who smoke and take birth control pills have a 21% increase in heart attacks

5. diabetes:
a. women with diabetes have a higher risk of for heart disease than men with diabetes. Overall, 18.2 million people are effected by diabetes which represents 6.3% of the population.

6. high cholesterol
a. 58% of women have an unacceptable cholesterol of greater than 200
b. 28% of women have a dangerous level of cholesterol of greater that 240
c. Normally, we want to see a cholesterol level of 100 plus your age

Why do more women than men die of heart disease?

The two main reasons are that:
1) Women are just not aware that heart disease is the number one killer of women. Thus, they fail to recognize the symptoms of heart disease and they fail to seek treatment. Women are so busy taking care of everyone around them, that they forget to take care of themselves. We have done such a great job with breast cancer awareness that women are now recognizing the symptoms of breast cancer, performing monthly self-exams and routinely getting mammograms. This has lead to women being diagnosed early with breast cancer when the disease may be more effectively treated. We MUST do the same awareness campaign for heart disease so that we can detect heart disease earlier when it is most treatable.

2) Women with heart disease present differently than men. Men with heart disease experience crushing chest pain beneath the breastbone (sternum) known as angina. Most women don’t experience ANY angina. The most common symptom of women with heart disease is fatigue. They also have more subtle symptoms such as jaw pain, arm pain, indigestion/heart burn. These symptoms often lead to the wrong diagnosis. For example: a women who is having jaw pain may mistake it for a toothache and see a dentist, a woman with indigestion may get diagnosed with gallbladder disease when, in fact, she has heart disease.

Cardiothoracic Surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliato Is Available For Interviews

CONTACT: Valerie Allen

Dr. Kathy Magliato
Valerie Allen