McLeod hosts Go Red for Women events to promote heart health

Dr. Alan Blaker with McLeod Cardiology Associates speaks during a Go Red for Women at the Hartsville Country Club Feb. 2, 2018.
Photo by Melissa Rollins

By Melissa Rollins, Editor,

Earlier this month, McLeod Regional Medical Center celebrated Go Red for Women with events across the Pee Dee and Grand Strand. At the event in Hartsville the group of red clad ladies were treated to lunch and a speech by Dr. Alan Blaker with McLeod Cardiology Associates.

Dr. Blaker shared some facts about heart disease and the different ways it can manifest.

“When we talk about heart disease, there really are a variety of types of problems that we’re dealing with,” Blaker said. “Most of the time when we are talking about heart disease, you are really talking about blockages in the arteries, that’s called coronary artery disease. Another form of heart disease is the weakened heart muscle or thickened heart muscle, that’s called cardiomyopathy. You can have problems affecting the lining around the heart, that is called pericardial disease; you can have problems affecting the vales of the heart. You can also have problems rhythm problems, irregular heartbeats, extra heartbeats, slow heartbeats. This is all considered heart disease.”

With so many different types of heart disease, Blaker said that it is something that affects a large part of the population.
“How big of a problem is heart disease,” Blaker asked. “There are around 70 million adults with cardiovascular disease in the United States, around 16 million related to coronary artery disease. Over 700,000 people will have a heart attack this year.”

Men and women can both be affected by heart disease.

“Heart disease is the number one killer in women,” Blaker said. “About 1 in 3 women this year will die from cardiovascular disease. That is one women dying every 80 seconds. But about 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases are preventable.”

Though both genders are at risk, there are a lot of differences between men and women when it comes to cardiovascular disease, Blaker said.

“Women tend to be older when they present with heart disease, about 20 years older with their first heart attack,” Blaker said. “Angina, which is chest pain due to the heart not getting enough blood flow, tends to be more common in women but it also tends to be more a-typical. Angina is also less likely to progress to a heart attack in women than it is in men. But once it starts causing problems it is more likely to be fatal. Because of some of these differences, there is what some call a sex or a gender bias, in other words, how does the medical staff treat you.”

Blaker said some ways to help care for your heart include quitting a smoking habit and not taking any unnecessary hormone replacement therapies. For smokers, some of the damage that is done starts to be reversed once the habit is dropped. Blaker said that for any questions or concerns about heart disease, a visit to your primary care physician can be helpful. If a problem is detected, more tests can be ordered to determine what the underlying problem may be.

Author: Duane Childers

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