Seton Women’s Heart Center tackles number one killer

Doctor checking a patient at the Seton Women's Heart Center. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)
Doctor checking a patient at the Seton Women's Heart Center. (KXAN Photo/Frank Martinez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Heart disease is the number one killer of women in this country, one in three will die from it, more than all forms of cancer combined. Every year it claims more women than men. That is why the Seton Healthcare Family has now opened the Seton Women’s Heart Center, where they believe preventive screening is the key to a longer life.

Turns out women develop heart disease differently than men and it can be harder to spot. Dr. Caitlin Giesler, medical director at the center, explains, “Instead of a blockage like a clogged pipe, women get diffused plaque in the arteries. It’s almost like rusty pipes. You still affect the overall blood flow but our traditional diagnostic testing doesn’t pick it up all the time.”

In addition to the latest diagnostic tools the Women’s Heart Center offers a complete screening package. Women tend to develop heart disease in their 60s, but doctors recommend screenings at 45. According to Dr. Giesler, “Part of our center is a woman’s heart risk assessment. If you’re not sure where you are on the spectrum of heart disease you can come in, we’ll tell you what your numbers are and what they should be.”

Diane was suffering spasms in her coronary artery, but repeated EKG tests couldn’t spot anything. Additional tests at the center determined that her migraine medicine was what was triggering her angina. Case solved. Diane says, “Oh it was a huge relief. All the not knowing, there were many times I wondered should I be on the way to the emergency room.”

Taking a deeper look at the problem, an estimated 43 million American women are affected by heart disease, 90 percent of all women have at least one risk factor. Those include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking and rheumatoid arthritis.

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