Understanding Heart Disease in Women

Dr. Farheen Shirazi

Dr. Farheen Shirazi

Dr. Farheen Shirazi, Emory Heart & Vascular Center cardiologist, recently conducted a live web chat on the topic of women and heart disease. During the chat, Dr. Shirazi provided participants with information ranging from how women can prevent heart disease to the importance of getting treatment right away, and details on the latest research underway to combat heart disease in women.

One of our attendees in Tuesday’s chat asked Dr. Shirazi, “What is the best diet for patients with heart disease?” Dr. Shirazi noted that the most effective diet will depend on each person’s specific risk factors for heart disease, but in general, the most recent evidence suggests that the Mediterranean diet is heart healthy. Dr. Shirazi explained that the Mediterranean Diet is rich in lean protein (poultry), good fats (olive oil) and omega-3s (fatty fish), and low in saturated fats and bad carbohydrates. And like any healthy diet, the Mediterranean Diet is low in sodium and loaded with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Another great question fielded by Dr. Shirazi in Tuesday’s live chat was related to symptoms and warning signs of heart disease, “I have read that symptoms of coronary heart disease are different in woman than in men, but when symptoms present, at what point should you seek medical attention? I sometimes feel chest discomfort, even sharp pains, but how will I know if it’s more serious than say stress for example?” Dr. Shirazi says patients should trust their instincts if something doesn’t “feel right,” in which case, Dr. Shirazi recommends seeing a medical professional. “A provider will be able to evaluate your symptoms and do appropriate screening. If you’re having any symptoms such as: chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, excessive fatigue, dizziness, loss of consciousness, or abdominal pain (to list a few), you should see your primary care physician. Your cardiologist will then be able to further assess your risk for heart disease,” she says.

In addition to the questions above, Dr. Shirazi answered questions related to cholesterol levels, hormone replacement therapy, and several other topics specific to heart disease in women. Most importantly, though, she reminded participants to take action immediately if they are at risk for, or experiencing symptoms of, heart disease.

For more information, check out the Women and Heart Disease chat transcript.

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