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Heart disease bigger threat to women than breast cancer, says Athens cardiologist

Athens, Ga. (February 22, 2019) – Every fall, the nation goes pink in honor of breast cancer awareness. Thousands march, fundraise and sport pink clothing to call attention to the disease. Yet little will be said about heart disease, which kills more women than lung cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer combined, according to Catherine Marti, M.D., a cardiologist with Piedmont Heart Institute of Athens.

It is estimated that one in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime while one in three women will have heart disease in her lifetime. Heart disease poses a particular threat to women in Georgia, which has the 12th highest death rate from cardiovascular disease in the country.

“A common misconception about heart disease is that it’s a disease that mostly affects men or older adults, and that’s actually not the case at all,” said Dr. Marti, who specializes in heart failure. “Heart disease is a leading cause of death for women. In fact, around 90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for heart disease.”

According to Dr. Marti, risk factors can include high cholesterol and blood pressure, diabetes, a history of smoking, and other lifestyle factors like lack of physical activity.

“Some risk factors of heart disease, like high cholesterol and blood pressure, are common for both men and women, but there are some risk factors that are unique for women,” said Dr. Marti. “For example, pregnancy complications like high blood pressure or diabetes during pregnancy can become long-term, even after pregnancy, which can increase the risk of developing heart disease.”

If you’re concerned about your risk for heart disease, Dr. Marti recommends getting evaluated by a doctor.

For women who do not have a pre-existing heart issue, Piedmont offers a screening inclusive of a physical exam, lab work and complete health history. Women who participate in the screening receive a comprehensive heart health report they can take home with detailed recommendations and next steps.

“Unfortunately, heart disease can be a threat to anyone, but knowing and understanding the risks and symptoms of heart disease can help you protect yourself from developing this deadly disease,” said Dr. Marti.

Support the Magill-Miller Advanced Heart Failure Clinic at Piedmont Heart Institute – Athens.

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