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Learn how High Cholesterol, Diabetes and Depression are leading risk factors for heart disease and eventually a hart attack.
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Learn about Heart Disease in Women Part 2/3
Female: Women’s heart is a muscle that keeps her alive, gentle and beautiful like a red rose, it needs to be properly fed and cared for.
Dr. Marjon Fariba: A women’s heart is a precious organ from which flows love, but also needs also nurturing to keep beating.
Female: That means it’s imperative for women to know their numbers, what their blood pressure is and their cholesterol.
Dorothy M. Navy: I had my cholesterol levels checked every time intern medicine doctor wanted me to have it done I had it done, and I have it done regularly at least 4 to 5 times a year or more.
Dr. Diane Sobkowicz: Good cholesterols numbers for women are higher than they are for men. So the good cholesterols should 50 or higher ideally for women whereas for men it’s 40. And the bad cholesterol should ideally be a 100 or less.
Female: 75-year-old Dorothy M. Navy lives in Sacramento. She walks her three-line streets regularly and takes good care of herself. She’s had high cholesterol but has been managing it with medication. As for blood pressure…
Dorothy M. Navy: I was diagnosed with high blood pressure one time in my life.
Female: She’s always stayed healthy so when she was out of time at her niece’s wedding, Dorothy was startled when she begun experiencing what she thought was persistent indigestion.
Dorothy M. Navy: I had a little heartburn I thought that’s what it was.
Female: But when it didn’t go away, an ambulance was called.
Dorothy M. Navy: The guy walks in and he says who is the patient? I say I'm the patient; he said you don’t look like you're sick. I say I'm just having heartburn, I don’t know what's wrong.
Female: Then at the hospital the doctor told her something she couldn’t believe.
Dorothy M. Navy: He said you look great but Ms. Navy you're right in the middle of having a heart attack. I said “oh no I'm not”; he said yes ma’am.
Marilyn Harrison: I was speechless. She was visiting out of town and having a distance in between us I just felt like I needed to get to her immediately. And it was a shock to all of us, no way has she had a heart attack.
Female: Dorothy’s daughter Marilyn Harrison says she’s grateful everyday that her mom is okay.
Marilyn Harrison: Without her I don’t even want to think of our life without here.
Female: Dorothy had five stents inserted in her arteries. A stent is a wire mesh tube used to prop open an artery. Before stent procedure, doctors take a close look at the arteries and veins through a variety of imaging techniques including MRI and angiogram. In the case of an angiogram, the doctor inserts a tiny tube into the artery through a small nick in the skin and x-ray dye is injected to make the blood vessels visible.
Dorothy M. Navy: It really makes you sit back and be thankful for life for knowing something about your body that has gone wrong and that you weren’t quite sure what it was.
Female: Dorothy says she likes staying busy and is taking computer classes. Since her heart attack she watches what she eats, has loss weight and exercises regularly.
Dorothy M. Navy: My kids used to have me stay on my butt, I don’t pay them no attention I just go right on as long as I feel good I'm fine and I feel good. If I get tired, I know when to stop and I just take a nap, sit down and look at TV and I fall asleep.
Female: Watching their mom now Dorothy’s children are taking heed of the unusual warning signs of heart disease in women. 51 year old Marilyn is paying close attention and for good reason.
Marilyn Harrison: I am absolutely at risk; we all are in our family. We've all made big changes as far as sugars and butters and fats and frying versus broiling.
Female: 61 years old Maria Tapia has also given up fatty food and she comes here to the UC Davies Cardiac Rehab Center in Sacramento three times a week.
Maria Tapia: This team is helping me to get a strong heart. When I start here I can hardly walk.
Female: Maria had bypass surgery and her cardiologist Dr. Amparo Villablanca got her into rehab as soon as possible.
Maria Tapia: I get stronger, my heart gets stronger and I'm losing around 30 pounds.
Female: Maria began having heart problem when she was 35 and has been taking medications ever since, ten years later she developed diabetes.
Maria Tapia: It’s hard when you have diabetes it’s hard for your heart because the sugar makes a lot of struggles in your body and we have to be careful with that. To control it is better for your system.
Female: Shirley Long has also been living with heart disease since she was 35.
Shirley Long: At 35 I started with chest pain, by 36 I had an angiogram and they said that I had a blockage. At 56 I was on 12 different medications for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t feeling good who I was. I was not a happy person. The psychology department really helped me a lot to determine that I needed to take more time for me as a mom, as wife.
Female: Remember depression itself is a risk factor for a heart disease.
Dr. Amparo Villablanca: Depression is added now in the American Heart Association Guidelines for screening for all women as a preventative measure because it’s both associated with high risk for developing heart disease and also high risk of dying from heart disease once a woman has the diagnosis.
Dr. Marjon Fariba: When their stress level goes down so does their stress hormones in their body. The cortisol level and the adrenalines and with the lowering of those stress hormones, the risk factors improve.
Female: Shirley works out regularly these days, eats well and is learning to take more time for herself and she’s feeling better.
Shirley Long: Now I have more than hope. I wanted to help other women understand you can do it. All you have to do is watch to it and is there for you, it’s okay. It’s really okay to take care of yourself. You’ve done it for everyone else now take the time for you, it’s okay.