Posted on April 6, 2012 at 10:27 AM
New research shows obstetricians and gynecologists should also be screening their patients for heart disease. That's because many women don't see other doctors.
At the OB, you know what to expect. A pap smear along with screenings for ovarian and breast cancers. But we are now turning to our OB's for much more. Often this is the only doctor's appointment a woman makes all year.
"Quite a few women don't see their primary care doctor. They look at their obstetrician as the person to see for everything," said Dr. Stuart Jones.
From colds to depression and now you can add heart disease to that list. There's a new push to get OB's to check for heart disease.
"In my office we actually have a checklist. Do you have any heart symptoms? Do you have chest discomfort? Do you have shortness of breath? Any GI problems? Any intestinal problems? So we ask those questions right off the bat," said Dr. Jones.
Brianne Harman of the American Heart Association encourages women to speak up.
"When they're at the doctor's, the OB appointment, or any other, for them to say, I don't know this just doesn't seem right and really ask those questions," said Harman.
That's because the symptoms of heart disease in women are so different, starting with fatigue.
"All women have fatigue, but trying to identify someone who has a little more fatigue than usual, or the jaw pain that we see. Left arm pain is another symptom that they will get, so they are very subtle. They're not the strong, crushing chest pain that men get," said Dr. Jones.
And if Dr. Jones sees patients with symptoms of heart disease, he refers them to a cardiologist right away.
Not only is heart disease the number one killer of women, those death rates are increasing by about one percent a year and this is in women ages 35 to 44.