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 Women's Heart Health

Americans often think of heart disease as a man's disease. That myth may contribute to women not getting the preventive care they need and the lifesaving treatment necessary when a heart attack or stroke occurs. Heart disease is a very real health concern for women:

  • Coronary artery disease, which causes heart attacks, is the number one killer of women in America.
  • One in four women who die in the United States each year die from heart disease.
  • Heart diseases cause almost twice as many deaths among women as all forms of cancer combined.
  • More than one in three female adults in the United States has some form of cardiovascular disease. Females represent more than half of deaths from cardiovascular disease.
  • Sixty-four percent of women who die suddenly of coronary artery disease had no previous symptoms.

Why Choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center?

At Ohio State we focus on three areas of women's heart health:

  • Clinical services
  • Education
  • Research

You can set up an appointment with the Women's Cardiovascular Health Clinic via referral—either a self-referral or a physician referral—held at Stoneridge in Dublin or at the Center for Women's Health. Depending on your health, you'll be:

  • Evaluated for your risk of developing heart disease
  • Assessed and treated for heart-related symptoms
  • Treated for known heart disease conditions

If needed, you may undergo laboratory testing or diagnostic testing such as an echocardiogram, cardiac MRI or an exercise stress test for further evaluation. A unique aspect of care that we provide at OSU Medical Center is the ability to assess for microvascular disease (MVD) utilizing cardiac MRI technology. MVD is a frequent cause of chest pain in women that is often underdiagnosed and undertreated.

Heart disease often goes unrecognized by patients and misdiagnosed and undertreated by physicians. As a result we strongly promote education, both for the public and for the medical community. At Ohio State, we frequently partner with local associations, groups and companies to ​help educate the general public about the signs and symptoms of heart disease, risk factors of heart disease and preventative strategies. We also educate physicians, nurses and other allied healthcare workers on similar topics, as well as offering in-depth lectures on various aspects of women's heart health.

We also conduct research on women's heart health, such as a cardiac MRI research project involving perimenopausal women with risk factors for atherosclerosis. We are also involved in a national study assessing higher death rates in young women versus men with heart attacks. Ohio State is home to experts like, Martha Gulati, MD, who specialize in the research and prevention of heart disease in women.

OSU Center for Women's Health

The Center for Women's Health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center was created, in part, to address differences in health conditions and healthcare between men and women. While women may get many of the same diseases and conditions as men, women are often affected differently and treatment can vary. And traditionally, research is disproportionately skewed toward men's health issues. With women comprising more than half of our inpatient and outpatient populations, Ohio State's Medical Center created the Center for Women's Health to address women's health needs in a multidisciplinary environment dedicated to clinical care, research and education. Cardiologist, Laxmi Mehta, MD, leads heart care at the Center for Women's Health and is dedicated to prevention of heart disease.

The Center for Women's Health focuses on all health concerns experienced by women across their lifespan—health services used solely by women, more commonly by women than men, or in a unique way by women as compared to men.

In a single setting, women can see providers specializing in:

  • Primary care
  • Internal medicine
  • Cardiology
  • Family medicine
  • Gynecology
  • Endocrinology
  • Menopause
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Integrative medicine

To schedule your appointment, please call 614-293-2076

Click here for directions.

Symptoms of Heart Disease

Heart disease often has no discernible symptoms, which is why it's important for all women to have regular care from a healthcare provider. Sometimes risk factors, such as high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol levels, are detected as the result of a routine examination. Treating those conditions promptly can prevent future problems.

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack in Women

A heart attack is one serious condition that can result from heart disease. Like heart disease overall, the warning signs of a heart attack may differ in women than in men.  Men more commonly have the classic signs of a heart attack, including chest tightness, arm pain and shortness of breath. A woman having a heart attack may experience the same symptoms as a man and she may also experience:

  • Nausea or indigestion
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Back pain

Symptoms can occur suddenly or develop over hours, days or weeks.

Women often ignore these symptoms or attribute them to other factors. Women who have heart attacks are more likely to die from them because women are uninformed about the symptoms, ignore the symptoms or are reluctant to seek prompt medical attention. Not seeking help when symptoms of a heart attack occur can lead to permanent damage or even death. If you have symptoms of a heart attack, it is important to call 911 or seek help immediately.

Some women do not feel as if their providers take their concerns about – or possible symptoms of – heart problems seriously. It is important to have a provider whom you trust, who listens to you and who fully addresses your health concerns. The Ohio State University Medical Center features a Center for Women's Health, which was established specifically to focus on women's health matters in one centralized location.

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Female-Specific Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Many steps to prevent heart disease in women are the same as for men. But women have some different risk factors that can be prevented.

After age 55, women may have higher low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels than men, which increase the risk of heart disease. It is important to have your cholesterol levels checked regularly and to take steps to keep them at medically acceptable levels.

After menopause, women are also more likely to develop high blood pressure – a significant contributor to heart disease. The tendency toward high blood pressure is compounded if obesity is present.

Many women can reduce their LDL cholesterol level and blood pressure by making lifestyle changes, such as increasing physical activity and eating a heart healthy diet. If your cholesterol and blood pressure cannot be normalized with lifestyle changes, your healthcare provider may recommend medication to help. It is important to take whatever steps you can to keep cholesterol and blood pressure in control because they are major contributors to heart disease.

Your healthcare provider also may recommend other over-the-counter or prescription medications if you are at high risk for heart disease.

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Ohio State Medical Center Physicians Who Treat This Condition

Cardiologists

Cardiothoracic Surgeons

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