Enjoy Your Menopause!

January 24, 2009

What is Your Heart Telling You?

Ever since being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I’ve made it my business to read all I can and to follow the instructions given by my Cardiologist. 

Heart disease is the nation’s number one killer for women. The well-known heart attack symptoms – acute pain, tightness, burning and a dull ache in the chest – describe what men typically experience during an attack. For many women the signs of a heart attack are completely different and can go unrecognized

Nausea, shoulder pain and exhaustion can be the only signs a woman experiences during an attack. Heart disease tends to come later in women than in men, on average 10 years after menopause. Women are more likely to die from their heart attacks.

Most people know to get to an emergency room immediately when they’ve identified that they’re having a heart attack. However, research shows that women go to the hospital on average one full hour later than men do after experiencing an attack. Most benefits of medical treatment occur in the first six hours after an attack, so delayed medical treatment reduces chances of full recovery. This could be due to a lack of education about onset and symptoms.

Doctors say clot-buster drugs may be immediately given to break up the clot and allow blood to get through to the heart. If necessary a balloon or a stent can be placed in the clogged artery to open the artery and strengthen the artery wall. Sometimes surgery and other procedures are required, depending on the situation.

You’ve heard the old saying:  “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Prevention is the best medicine.  That means doing your part to keep your heart healthy and strong. 

1)  Maintain low cholesterol levels.

2)  Exercise.

3)  Quit smoking.

4)  If you have diabetes, keep it under control.

5)  Monitor your blood pressure, and keep it in check.

6)  Know your family medical history. If there’s a history of heart disease, start earlier and be even more diligent about prevention.


November 21, 2008

How Much Heart Damage do I Have?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Beverly Mahone @ 8:23 pm
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The amount of my heart damage will be determined on Tuesday, November 25 when I undergo a Nuclear Imaging procedure.  The apointment is at 8:30am.  It was the option I chose instead of the heart catheterization.

I was told I couldn’t eat anything but I had to be sure to take my medication.  I must wear loose fitting clothing and a bra that has NO underwire.  I will be positioned on an examination table. A nurse or technologist will insert an intravenous (IV) line into a vein in my hand or arm.

The exam will begin with a stress test, which will require me to exercise either by walking on a treadmill or pedaling a stationary bicycle for a few minutes. While I’m exercising, the electrical activity of my heart will be monitored by electrocardiography (ECG) and my blood pressure will be frequently measured. When blood flow to the heart has reached its peak, I will be given the radiotracer through my IV. About a minute later, I will be instructed to stop exercising and go back to the examination examination table.

Approximately a half-hour later, the imaging will begin. Once the technologist has positioned the gamma camera, it will move slowly in an arc over my chest.

Images of my heart obtained after I exercise will be compared with images of my resting heart.

The entire procedure lasts between three and four hours.

November 20, 2008

What is Heart Failure?

When you hear the words “heart failure”, it sounds serious but the truth of the matter is heart failure doesn’t mean you’re about to die or that your heart has stopped.  It means your heart isn’t working as well as it should.  That’s what is happening with me.  According to my cardiologist, my heart isn’t working properly.

So how did I get to this point?  According to my doctor, heart failure usually doesn’t occur suddenly.  It gradually worsens over time and can be caused by:

  • coronary artery disease
  • past heart attack
  • high blood pressure
  • thyroid disorder
  • lung disease
  • heart valve disease or infection
  • heart muscle disease
  • heart damage from alcohol or drug abuse
  • heart damage due to diabetes
  • heart defects from birth
  • abnormal heart rhythms

Ten years ago, I was treated for hyperthyroid–which eventually turned into hypothyroid.  I was also diagnosed with cardiomyopathy and high blood pressure so even though I was given a clean bill of health five years ago, I was still at risk.

What I’ve learned is this:  Once you’ve been diagnosed with a condition and been given some guidelines to follow, DO IT, and don’t stop–even if the doctor tells you your condition is greatly improved.  

It’s up to you to get to the Heart of the matter! 


    Living with Congestive Heart Failure

    One week ago today, I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  It was discovered during an echocardiogram ordered by my regular doctor during a routine physical. 

    I must admit, it came as a shock to me because five years ago I was given a clean bill of health after suffering from cardiomyopathy and hyperthyroid for nearly 10 years.  My cardiologist, Dr. Elizabeth Henke, didn’t pull any punches.  She laid it right out there.  She said I need to change my eating and drinking habits and spend much LESS time on the computer in exchange for some vigorous exercise.

    My options are

    1.  Heart catheterization:  This is a procedure to examine blood flow to the heart and test how well the heart is pumping. A doctor inserts a thin plastic tube (catheter) (KATH’eh-ter) into an artery or vein in the arm or leg. From there it can be advanced into the chambers of the heart or into the coronary arteries.

    2.  Nuclear Imaging:  Your body goes through a scanner.  It shows not only the anatomy (structure) of an organ or body part, but the function of the organ as well. This functional information can show if the organ is working properly. This is due to the fact that the radionuclides (low-level radioactive chemicals used in nuclear medicine studies) are absorbed by or taken up at varying rates (or in different concentrations) by different tissue types.

    They both sound scary but I chose Option 2.  The appointment has not yet been scheduled.

    This is what I’ve learned from this part of my journey:

    It’s important to have an annual physical exam.

    Be honest with your doctor.  Tell all of your dirty, little secrets–you know those bad eating and drinking habits you may have and WHATEVER! else you might do.  If your doctor has this information, they can treat you better.  Otherwise, you may be setting yourself up for even more medical problems down the road.

    Check your family history.  My dad died of heart failure at the age of 52.  My mother is still alive at 86 with no heart problems.  What does that mean for me?     

    Menopause and Congestive Heart Failure…Whew!

    June 13, 2008

    Menopause and Heart Disease

    Filed under: menopause,Uncategorized — Beverly Mahone @ 1:38 am
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    Did you know heart disease is responsible for half of the deaths of American women over the age of 50? Heart disease kills 12 times more women than breast cancer. As a woman, it is important to be aware of the risks that heart disease can pose.

    According to a report from the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the chances of developing heart disease after menopause increases. While there are some risk factors for heart disease and stroke that you can do something about, there are others that you can’t control. The five major risk factors that you cannot change are:

    • As you get older, your risk off heart disease increases
    • Although strokes can occur at any age, most strokes occur in people over 65.
    • Men, over the age of 55 years and women after menopause are at greater risk of heart disease
    • Until women reach menopause they have a lower risk of stroke than men.
    Family history
    • Your risk of heart disease is increased if close family members – parents, siblings or children – developed heart disease before age 55 or, in the case of female relatives, before menopause.
    • Your risk of stroke is increased if close family members – parents, siblings or children – had a stroke before age 65.
    • First Nations people and those of African or South Asian descent are more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes and therefore, are at greater risk of heart disease and stroke than the general population.
    Prior stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack)
    • If you’ve had a previous stroke or a TIA, which is also known as a mini-stroke, your risk of stroke is greater.