The heart to get things checked out: “If they’re 40 and experiencing symptoms they should insist on a stress test,” said one doctor interviewed this week for the start of the American Heart Association’s Go Red
for Women campaign (which will culminate in a Sept. 22 TV special “Stories from the Heart,” hosted by Marie Osmond). Too few women, said experts cited in the piece, are still unaware that what feels like normal angst could be  a heart attack.

[One such patient] had an external heart pump put in six to eight weeks prior. She got to the point she couldn’t live without something. Even being number one on the list that didn’t help,” said Dr. Joan Crawford, chief of cardiology at St. John Oakland and Macomb hospitals, director of women’s services at St. John Macomb, and medical director of the local Go Red campaign. “Her message would be, that using her as an example, heart disease really didn’t have a stereotype. Even at the end she looked young, smiley, bubbly externally. You would never know how sick she was.”

Crawford says that’s why women need to educate themselves about the symptoms of heart disease. The Go Red campaign is raising awareness, but women still need to be their own advocates.

“Michelle originally thought she had a cold or asthma. She would want people to see their doctor to make sure a health professional is listening to their symptoms especially if they’re young and female,” said Crawford of Bloomfield Hills. “Listen to your body. If something is different or you don’t feel right you know better than anybody else. Lots of doctors are still under the bias only men get heart disease. If they’re 40 and experiencing symptoms they should insist on a stress test, EKG.”

Throw out last year’s checklist: Meanwhile, Irish researchers say that even what we think of as “risk factors” for heart disease change somewhat as we age; that even amateur athletes need extra screening, and that it’s hard for many to stick with that exercise regime:

Speaking at the Congress of the European Society for Cardiology (ESC) yesterday, researchers from the department of cardiology at the Adelaide, Meath and National Children’s Hospital (AMNCH), Tallaght, Dublin, said in general cholesterol levels and obesity matter less as a person gets older.

But Prof Ian Graham, consultant cardiologist at Tallaght emphasised that smoking remains a potent risk factor for developing coronary artery disease throughout a person’s life. And having lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL) “is bad news in older women”, he said….

Interestingly, researchers found that people who were overweight (BMI 25-30) had the lowest risk of death. Both men and women who were underweight (BMI \- the Euroaspire III study – showed that people at high risk of developing heart disease were not modifying their lifestyles in response.

“Some 37 per cent of men and 43 per cent of women (at high risk of heart disease) didn’t exercise on a regular basis and did not intend to do so,” [one] said.

 

But if you do exercise, warned Prof Mats Borjesson of Sweden’s Gothenburg University, a doctor’s oversight is essential. “Although regular exercise lowers the risk of heart disease, the risk of
triggering a cardiac event increases during vigorous activity,”

But they don’t seem to sell anything else. All summer, WVFC has felt deluged by authors of new style guides for over-40 women,  such as Christopher Hopkins’  Staging Your Comeback: A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45.  Author Rita Robinson moans that such style gurus’ recommendations are nearly impossible to follow, such as the Project Runway’s Tim Gunn’s prohibition of low-rise jeans as one of the six things we shouldn’t wear:

Muffin tops are how older women’s midriffs look when they wear low-rise pants. I don’t like low-rise pants, However, recently I bought three pair. Why? I couldn’t find anything else. My wardrobe is sparse since I’ve been busy blogging. I’m desperate.

No one has accused Newsmix of being a slave to fashion, but we were worried enough to check out one magazine’s list of fashion “do’ and don’ts” for fortysomethings. We liked most of the do’s, though some we can’t afford yet, like the “signature handbag.” And we best WVFC readers get to toss at least one item from the don’ts:

To avoid that old-before-your-time look, don’t hide behind long, shapeless, oversized clothing. Also give the following a miss: *Elastic-waist jeans, overalls. *Crocs as fashion footwear. *Backpacks, fanny packs. *Holiday sweaters. *Hosiery with sandals. *Fussy jewelry. *Senior-citizen pastels. *Matchy-matchy outfits.

 

— Chris L.

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  • Riya September 5, 2008 at 11:40 am

    She would want people to see their doctor to make sure a health professional is listening to their symptoms especially if they’re young and female,” said Crawford of Bloomfield Hills. “Listen to your body. If something is different or you don’t feel right you know better than anybody else. Lots of doctors are still under the bias only men get heart disease. If they’re 40 and experiencing symptoms they should insist on a stress test, EKG.”

    Reply