Statistics show that heart disease is notably underdiagnosed in women. Unfortunately, that means that many women end up with serious cardiovascular conditions that end up worsening. A woman named Barbara Fleeman is a case in point. “I didn’t [suspect heart disease] because I was very healthy. I had great blood pressure. I was in great physical condition and I’d always been very active,” Barbara Fleeman explains in a recent interview. “My cholesterol numbers were good. I could have been a poster child [for a healthy lifestyle].”
The reality was that Fleeman was suffering from a serious heart condition, a somewhat rare vascular condition is frequently undiagnosed until the patient has significantly worsened.
Fleeman has become a WomenHeart Champion and certified community educator for WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease today, and at the time was aware that something was not right.
Her condition progressed until she was feeling tightness and a spasm [in my chest] that would make her have to cough to catch her breath. She was also suffering sharp pains in the center of her chest, and she felt like her heart hurt.
ther symptoms included fatigue, shortness of breath, clammy skin, and chest tightness.
Fleeman’s primary-care doctor was the first person she spoke to about her problem, and she told him about her painful cough.
She noted that he said: “The cough is probably related to sinus drip” [and sent me to] an ear, nose and throat doctor who said,
She went back to her primary care doctor a couple more times and then asked to see a cardiologist.
Fleeman points out she actually had appointments with 10 other doctors before she finally got in to see a cardiologist. The cardiologist, however, also said there was no problem with her heart.
Frustrated at her lack of a diagnosis, Fleeman visited the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center website and learned about the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Health Center.
A couple of days later, Fleeman made an appointment with Dr. Noel Bairey Merz, the head of the center.
Dr. Bairey Merz told her: “We think you have something wrong with your micro-vessels, and that doesn’t show up in the normal heart tests given by most doctors.”
That’s because most women’s microvascular disease can only be seen in a cardiac MRI [magnetic resonance imaging].
Fleeman was eventually diagnosed with coronary microvascular disease with endothelial dysfunction. She points out it’s not uncommon for women and often misdiagnosed.
Source: Life Script
Photo: Life Script