Women's Hearts Need Extra Attention

On April 8, the Women's Cardiovascular Institute will open at THE HEART HOSPITAL Baylor Plano with a team of cardiologists, nurses and other clinicians who will hold weekly Tuesday heart health assessments for women. To learn more about the Women's Cardiovascular Institute or to make an appointment, call 1-800-4BAYLOR. 

Heart disease is the leading killer of women, not breast cancer. In fact, 13 percent of women age 45 and older have had a heart attack, according to the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. 

At the new institute, women will undergo an individually tailored, heart risk assessment screening. A cardiologist will evaluate the risk profile and recommend further treatment and testing, if needed. Other patients will be provided risk reduction education. 

Becoming director of the Women's Cardiovascular Institute allows Deepika Gopal, M.D., to fulfill her long-standing interest and passion in the early diagnosis and prevention of heart and vascular disease in women. Dr. Gopal, a clinical cardiologist on the medical staff of THE HEART HOSPITAL Baylor Plano, specializes in women's cardiovascular disease and cardiac imaging. 

"One out of three female adults has some form of cardiovascular disease," says Dr. Gopal. "Since 1984, the number of cardiovascular deaths for females has exceeded those for males." 

Complicating the issues is the fact that cardiovascular disease symptoms in women may differ from those experienced by most men. "Women's symptoms are more subtle and atypical when compared to men," says Dr. Gopal. "These symptoms include nausea, indigestion, backache, dizziness, fatigue and numbness." 

Women may need slightly different tests for heart disease. In women, a treadmill stress test with only EKG monitoring, which has so far been the test of choice, has a very low diagnostic yield. Combining a stress test with an ultrasound, which can also check for heart structure and function, as well as other problems such as mitral valve prolapse, is of much greater value in diagnosis in women. 

Like men, women need to maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and quit smoking if they do smoke. Women need to discuss the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with their physician. 

Most of all, women need to take the possibility of heart disease seriously. "Because a woman's symptoms can be mild, they often postpone seeking treatment or assume the symptoms aren't linked to their heart," says Dr. Gopal. "Time is extremely crucial, so it's important that women seek appropriate care."

THE HEART HOSPITAL Baylor Plano is located at 1100 Allied Dr. (two blocks east of Preston Road at Plano Parkway) next to Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano. Complimentary parking is available in the adjacent parking garage. THE HEART HOSPITAL is the first and only freestanding, full-service hospital in this region dedicated entirely to heart and vascular care. The hospital offers an expansive portfolio of inpatient and outpatient heart and vascular services and care. THE HEART HOSPITAL is a partnership between Baylor Plano and 86 cardiovascular physicians and surgeons who practice in North Texas.

Contact: Susan Hall, (214) 820-1817
Email: SusanH@baylorhealth.edu 

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About Baylor Scott & White Health
As the largest not-for-profit health system in the state of Texas, Baylor Scott & White promotes the health and well-being of every individual, family and community it serves. It is committed to making quality care more accessible, convenient and affordable through its integrated delivery network, which includes the Baylor Scott & White Health Plan, Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, the Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance and its leading digital health platform – MyBSWHealth. Through 51 hospitals and more than 1,200 access points, including flagship academic medical centers in Dallas, Fort Worth and Temple, the system offers the full continuum of care, from primary to award-winning specialty care. Founded as a Christian ministry of healing more than a century ago, Baylor Scott & White today serves more than three million Texans. For more information, visit: BSWHealth.com