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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, May 08, 2002
To Your Health

Caring for the heart Caring for the heart (May 08, 2002)

Women's heart disease is the subject of book, Web sites

by The Health Library

"Doctors now know that heart disease is so deadly for women that their chances of dying from it are one in two. That means basically that either you or your best girlfriend is likely to die of a heart attack, stroke or related heart problem. By contrast, the odds of getting breast cancer during the course of your life are approximately one in 8, and your chances of dying of it are one in 25."

For those of you who are surprised by the above statistics, the book "Women Are Not Small Men, Life-Saving Strategies for Preventing and Healing Heart Disease in Women," by Nieca Goldberg, M.D., will probably introduce you to other eye-opening facts and statistics about the number-one killer of women -- heart disease.

"Women Are Not Small Men" is a particularly useful book because rather than just inundating the reader with dire facts and statistics, Goldberg sets out to present her female audience with a set of tools that can help them change their way of thinking about their own risk for heart disease, and especially, ways of preventing and recovering from it.

The book is divided into four sections: Understanding Your Heart; Examining Your Heart; The Women's Healthy Heart Program; and Medical Treatments for Cardiovascular Disease. Each of these sections makes a substantial evening's read because Goldberg presents a good deal of information in order to leave the reader conversant on the subject of women and heart disease. After all, her aim is to undo years of miseducation about heart disease in women.

Rather than a litany of dry facts, the book is highly palatable reading because Goldberg uses case studies of women patients to illustrate examples of her subject, and many readers might recognize themselves in one or more of the typical patients she describes.

The section on recognizing the symptoms of heart attack in women should be required reading for everyone because the symptoms vary greatly from the ones that we've all been trained to recognize in men. As the title of the book states, and Goldberg reminds us throughout the book, women are not just small men -- heart disease in women presents and progresses differently than it does in men. For any woman who is serious about taking charge of her health, this book goes a long way toward making up for the dearth of information about this truly enormous health risk that they may not be addressing.

For information on heart disease that is available on the Internet, the American Heart Association has a Web site called "Take Wellness to Heart," which is aimed at educating women about their risks for heart disease and stroke. It can be found at One feature that makes this site attractive is the ability for the user to sign up for an electronic newsletter that will keep them up to date with latest research and health findings regarding heart disease and women.

On the homepage of the Take Wellness to Heart site the reader can review the findings from a large national survey the American Heart Association conducted regarding women's perceptions about heart disease and their own risks for it. When you read the results of the survey, you will not be surprised why "Women Are Not Small Men" is such a long and thoroughly written book. As the American Heart Association and Dr. Goldberg know, we are only at the beginning of changing women's understanding of their number-one health risk, and if knowledge truly is power, then women, read on. If you have health questions, write to The Health Library at The Health Library resources are not intended as a substitute for medical care and should be used to formulate questions for discussion with your physician. The main branch is located at 2-B Stanford Shopping Center. (650) 725-8400. The Health Library is a community service of Stanford Hospital and Clinics.


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