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September 08, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, September 08, 2004
Health Library

A heart-to-heart on women's health A heart-to-heart on women's health (September 08, 2004)

Books address importance of educating females on risks and treatments for cardiovascular disease

Heart disease is the leading killer of American women.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 500,000 women in the United States die of cardiovascular disease each year, more than the next seven causes of death combined.

The symptoms of heart disease and signs of an impending heart attack are not the same in men and women. Once diagnosed, women often do not receive appropriate treatment. Because cardiovascular disease is largely preventable, women who understand the unique symptoms, risk factors and treatment methods could be saving their lives.

A new book called "How to Keep from Breaking Your Heart: What every woman needs to know about cardiovascular disease," by cardiologist Barbara H. Roberts, M.D., contains up-to-date information about preventing and healing women's heart disease. Now on the shelves of the Stanford Health Library, this book does a good job of teaching women how to keep their hearts healthy. The book's first section focuses on prevention and identifying risk factors. Then Dr. Roberts discusses specific heart diseases, diagnostic tests and treatments. The third part examines gender bias in medicine and its impact on women's health, along with new and emerging treatments for heart disease. A chapter on the history of medicine is interesting, but not particularly germane to the topic.

Published in 2004, the book contains the latest information on hormone replacement therapy and its relationship to cardiovascular disease. By clearly explaining the basics of cardiac function and disease, Dr. Roberts empowers women by emphasizing that prevention is under their control. A glossary and a list of both on- and off-line resources at the end of the book are also useful.

Not quite as new (published in 2002), but still a popular book full of valuable information regarding women and heart disease, is "Women Are Not Small Men: Life-saving strategies for preventing and healing heart disease in women," by Nieca Goldberg, M.D. This book is also available at the Stanford Health Library. Goldberg believes that misinformation keeps women from getting appropriate care for heart disease. She does a good job of remedying the situation. For instance, in the chapter on diagnosis, Dr. Goldberg provides action plans and outlines questions doctors will ask, to prepare women for their examinations. She organizes information on risk factors into "the facts" and "your next step."

Throughout the book, Dr. Goldberg stresses the value of exercise, dietary modification, smoking cessation and stress management in the prevention and management of heart disease in women.

Robert Robbins, M.D., director of the Stanford Institute of Cardiovascular Medicine, will speak on "Understanding Cardiovascular Disease in Women." Sponsored by the Stanford Health Library, this presentation is both open to the public and free-of-charge. It will take place on Thursday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. in the Fairchild Auditorium of the Stanford Medical Center. For more information or to register, call (650) 498-7826.

The books reviewed can be obtained at any of the three Stanford Health Library branches: at the Stanford Shopping Center, on the third floor of Stanford Hospital and in the new Stanford Cancer Center. For more information or assistance with research, contact the Health Library at (650) 725-8400.

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