Women's Heart Health a Critical Focus at Northwestern Memorial's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute
Center for Women's Cardiovascular Health specializes in treating heart disease in women
As the No.1 health threat for women over 25, cardiovascular disease claims the lives of almost 500,000 women each year and leads to six times as many deaths as breast cancer. Yet health statistics show that few women recognize that cardiovascular disease is a serious threat to their health, and women are often less likely to receive appropriate care. To combat these statistics and respond to women's unique heart health needs, the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute of Northwestern Memorial Hospital's Center for Women's Cardiovascular Health focuses on the prevention, early detection, education, and treatment of cardiovascular disease in women.
"Cardiovascular disease has a truly devastating prevalence among women, and is estimated to kill one woman every minute," says Marla A. Mendelson, MD, medical director of the Center for Women's Cardiovascular Health. "The first weapon in the battle against this disease is education on how one size doesn't fit all when it comes to warning signs."
Along with associate medical directorsVera H. Rigolin, MD, and Martha Gulati, MD, Dr. Mendelson collaborates with a multidisciplinary team of specialists who provide a comprehensive regimen of care and tailor treatment plans according to each woman's individual needs. Through the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute's cardiac behavioral and lifestyle medicine programs, the Center for Women's Cardiovascular Health provides women with guidance on adjustable risk factors that affect heart health, such as depression and anxiety, stress, weight, nutrition and high blood pressure and cholesterol.
"Research shows that women present markedly different symptoms of heart disease than men," says Dr. Gulati. "Early warning signs can include overwhelming fatigue, indigestion, and anxiety, which can sometimes be symptoms that are present right before a heart attack. Women often dismiss those symptoms for needing to lie down to get some extra rest, when in fact they need to get into a hospital."
This is why Dr. Rigolin emphasizes that promoting awareness among women of the early, and often misdiagnosed, indicators of the disease is so important.
"Each day we learn more about how unique a woman's heart health needs are, and how those change over time," she says. "By focusing on those needs, we not only want to develop the best treatment options for women-we want to reduce their risk of even developing heart disease."
Constantly seeking to advance the scientific knowledge of cardiovascular disease in women and improve treatment, the center also holds a variety of clinical trials, with participation opportunities available to women who qualify.
Drs. Mendelson, Rigolin and Gulati are among several presenters at the Center for Women's Cardiovascular Health's upcoming Second-Annual Women's Cardiovascular Health Symposium, which will be held in Prentice Women's Hospital next Wednesday, Feb. 4. Several lectures are available to the public.
For more information about the Center for Women's Cardiovascular Health, please call 312-MYHEART or 312-694-3278.