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Women and Heart Disease: Know Your Diagnostic Options

Cardiovascular Diseases

February is American Heart Month, aimed at raising awareness of heart disease. It and other awareness campaigns appear to be working: 88 percent of the more than 1,500 HealthyWomen visitors who participated in a recent online survey recognize heart disease as the number one killer of women in the United States.

While the majority of women surveyed also knew the typical symptoms for heart disease, 72 percent were unaware of the radiation risks associated with a commonly used diagnostic option called a nuclear stress test (also known as a heart imaging test). Nearly half of the women who said they visited their health care provider within the past year complaining of heart-related symptoms such as chest discomfort, heartburn, shortness of breath and fatigue were referred for a nuclear stress test.

These tests are effective at detecting blocked arteries, also referred to as obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD), but one nuclear stress test exposes you to the same amount of radiation as about 39 mammograms or up to 1,000 chest X-rays, depending on the radiology equipment used.

Fortunately, there is another option: a blood test that can help your health care provider quickly and safely diagnose or rule out a blockage in your heart arteries as the cause of your symptoms. According to our survey, 88 percent are unaware this test is available. The Corus CAD test is the only sex-specific blood test that takes into consideration key cardiovascular differences between men and women.

If you experience chest discomfort, heartburn, shortness of breath and/or fatigue—even mildly—it's important to see your health care provider and discuss your options for assessing whether or not you may have coronary artery disease. Detection is vital in battling this disease, which currently kills one U.S. woman every minute.

This content was created with the support of CardioDx.

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