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Leading the way as one of the top Michigan cardiology and Michigan heart care hospitals with a full array of cardiac treatments and programs that set new standards for heart care every day, that's the St. Joseph Mercy Oakland way. From heart valve replacement to coronary artery bypass, our doctors are at the forefront of heart procedures and treatments.

Kiret Patel, MD
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
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THE FACTS ABOUT Women and Heart Disease


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among American women. In fact, it kills more than half a million women each year in the United States alone — more than the next seven causes of death combined. That’s nearly twice the number of deaths due to all forms of cancer, including breast cancer. Until recently, many experts believed that cardiovascular disease was a man’s problem.

Podcast Posted: 08/10/2007
Understanding the risks of heart disease can empower women to live longer and healthier lives. Since women often have very different symptoms than men, it is important to know all the early warning signs. For example, women are more likely to feel shortness of breath, unusually fatigued, and generally out of sorts. Chest pain might feel like a squeezing sensation, instead of the crushing pressure typically described by men. Women often feel radiating pain in the right arm, rather than the left as men usually do. They are also more likely to have jaw and neck pain, and experience nausea and vomiting.

Women usually get heart disease at an older age than men, when the protection offered by estrogen and other hormones begins to fade. “Typically women experience atherosclerosis 10-15 years after men,” says Dr. Kiret Patel, M.D., and SJMO cardiologist. “Additionally, it’s difficult to diagnosis heart disease in older women. Often times it is misdiagnosed or not treated aggressively enough because of advanced age.”

The largest risk factors for heart disease are smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, advancing age and menopause, and family history of heart disease. Maintaining healthy levels of activity can lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, as well as raise good cholesterol and help to prevent or control diabetes. Eating a heart-healthy diet is also essential.

Doctors may prescribe medicines for high blood pressure or high cholesterol that can reduce the risk of heart disease. Taking a small dose of aspirin regularly can help prevent heart attacks, and recent advances have made procedures to treat clogged arteries in the heart — such as angioplasty and bypass surgery — even more effective.

When women get heart disease, they fare worse than men. There are a number of factors that lead to this unfavorable outcome, including:

Medical Care.

Women wait longer than men to call for emergency medical help when they have symptoms of a heart attack.

Survival Rates.
Women are less likely to survive a heart attack than men. Also, women are more likely than men to have a second heart attack.

Smoking increases a woman’s heart disease risk two to four times. The combination of smoking and using birth control pills makes that risk even higher.

Please call our physician referral line at 1-800- 372-6094 to locate a SJMO OB/GYN in your area.



Coronary Artery Bypass (CABG)
James Caralis, DO
Posted: 08/10/2007
Carotid Artery Disease
Nishit Choksi, MD
Posted: 05/09/2008
Emergency Angioplasty
Michele DeGregorio, MD
Posted: 08/10/2007
Why Minutes Count
Michele DeGregorio, MD
Posted: 08/10/2007
Heart Failure
Nitin Doshi, MD
Posted: 08/10/2007
Life After a Heart Attack
Willam Gordon, MD
Posted: 08/10/2007
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