The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1168: What Should You Know About Women’s Heart Health?

We often assume that women's heart health is the same as men's, but there are some subtle and significant differences. What should you know?
Mark Menolascino, MD, author of Heart Solution for Women: A Proven Program to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.
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What Should You Know About Women’s Heart Health?

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When you think about heart health, you may not think about any gender differences in symptoms or treatment. Most doctors don’t, so why would patients? However, women don’t always experience the classic symptoms of crushing chest pain that we expect from tales of men’s heart attacks. Sometimes, they may be bothered with back or jaw pain, fatigue or nausea. Occasionally a woman might attribute her discomfort to heartburn and delay emergency treatment for a heart attack. Moreover, other symptoms might include shortness of breath, dizziness or even fainting. What should you know about women’s heart health?

One Woman’s Story:

Robin Oliveira had experience as a critical care nurse, so she expected that she would recognize the signs of a heart attack if she had one. Instead, though, her heart attack caught her completely by surprise. Listen to her tell how it happened and how she survived.

Focus on Women’s Heart Health:

Dr. Mark Menolascino is adamant that women are not just like men, especially when it comes to heart health. Critically, he points out the shortcomings of simple cholesterol numbers when it comes to predicting heart attacks and describes the 20+ measures he prefers to use instead.

Why is inflammation the main thing to consider, especially for women’s heart health? How do you detect it? More importantly, what can you do to control it? We discuss a healthful diet and active lifestyle as ways to keep our hearts healthy. Dr. Menolascino also describes the interventions he has found helpful and adopted from traditional Chinese medicine.

How Do We Assess Medications for Women’s Heart Health?

We need a metric to tell how much medications such as hormones or statins benefit women’s heart health. One way to evaluate is to consider the NNT (number needed to treat) and the NNH (number needed to harm). Dr. Menolascino describes the simple statistics behind these measurements. In conclusion, we consider how women can improve their own health.

This Week’s Guests:

Robin Oliveira is a former registered nurse who specialized in critical care, cardiac care, and Bone Marrow Transplant. She lives outside of Seattle, Washington on Cougar Mountain. She is an author and writer, whose most recent novel, Winter Sisters, is now out in paperback from Penguin Books.

Dr. Mark Menolascino has over 35 years of health care experience. He is Board Certified as an Internal Medicine Specialist, Board Certified in Integrative and Holistic Medicine, is a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner as well as Board Certified in Advanced Hormone Management and Anti-Aging Medicine. His medical knowledge is complemented by advanced training and clinical experience in nutrition, naturopathic medicine, Chinese medicine/acupuncture, Ayurvedic medicine and homeopathy. Dr. Menolascino is the author of Heart Solution for Women: A Proven Program to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Am in total agreement with the first comment: This was another fantastic interview–very informative–answered questions I’ve had dealing with a primary physician who has somewhat “dismissed” my increasing symptoms of heart disease for years. I’ve just changed and have an appointment with new primary in two weeks. Hopefully, we will discuss the great detailed info provided in this program. As usual, I/we are so grateful for the People’s Pharmacy AND especially for these podcasts!

This was a fantastic show from beginning to end. I learned so much valuable information! Thank you to your knowledgeable guests who did a great job making the information easy to understand for the nonmedically trained listener and to your first guest for sharing her personal story!

I have family heart disease (mother and father, deceased at 71 & 73). With the family record of heart attacks, I knew what I was in for. I only had one major symptom, sharp pain in upper back which woke me at 3am back in 2013. Finally found a doctor that listened to me; ended up with a 3XCABG in 2014. And I have PTSD and deal with depression and anxiety even on medication. Just trying to stay calm.

Bob and Terry,
I have enjoyed listening to your show every Sunday as I drive to Augusta, Ga, from Spartanburg. I am an interventional radiologist and recently started a teaching position in Interventional Radiology, at the Medical College of Georgia, in Augusta. I have learned a lot from your shows and I am amazed how your questions are so germain to the topics at hand. I was curious why Today’s guest Dr Mark Menolascino did not provide information of his office location. Any affiliiations? I am sure your listeners would be very interested in consultation with him. His understanding of inflammation in the circulatory system, ideas of FOOD as medicine is something previously discussed on your show. I also agree that personalized medicine is just in it’s infancy.
As an Interventional Radiologist, I am always performing minimally invasive procedures, avoiding surgery and often treating disease, when surgery is unable to, such as radioembolization of liver cancers. I perform over 100 different peocedures, from draining diseased gallbladders, kidneys and abscesses, to ablating ( and curing 94% of the time, as an outpatient) early renal carcinomas, to stopping gastrointestinal bleeding, or Performing TIPS procedures to reduce portal hypertension. I treat vascular and non vascular conditions using imaging guidance such as fluoroscopy, CT or ultrasound as imaging tools. IR is now the MOST COMPETITIVE residency for medical students! Perhaps an Interventional Radiologist would be an interesting guest on your show.

Arthur Freedman, M.D.

Dr. Mark Menolascino’s talk on June 8 was very informative. I do have a question re” a specific comment he made late in the broadcast. He called a slice of bread, even a high-quality whole grain variety, the equivalent of a can of soda pop as far as how the body “looks at it.”
Surely he cannot mean that the ye are nutritionally equal because a reading of the nutrition label and ingredients clearly shows they are not. The bread slice has many helpful nutrients while the soda has none. So exactly what was the good doctor trying to say?

Thanks for your program, it’s always a highlight of my listening weekend.

I am now being examined for the mild symptoms this article discusses. I went to doctor to investigate a tick bite, and during the visit I mentioned recent changes such as lack of energy, tiring easily. Even from short walk of 1/4 mile to mail box I have to stop and rest to catch my breath. Tests at office show some possible heart damage but will be seeing a cardiologist for further work up. Key here is paying attention to changes which have no apparent reason for cause. Too often we wait until a major issue rushes us to the ER.

I feel the anxiety of the pending news and expected to have this emotional reaction. I can understand why a person who survives a heart attack can get into a deep depression. The depression can prove almost as life-threatening as the medical issue. Challenge will to live. In my cause this hopefully is caught in time and will be resolved.

George, we trust your doctor is checking the possibility of a tick-borne disease as well as a cardiovascular cause. Good luck!

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