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Women & heart health: Why women respond to stress differently than men

EL PASO, Texas - February is Heart Health Month and a local cardiologist says it's important for women to take care of their heart, especially when dealing with the stresses of day-to-day life.

"I think women tend to internalize a little bit more," says Dr. Daisy Nieto, a cardiologist with Las Palmas Medical Center. "Things going on during the day we tend to reflect on and maybe overthink." Dr. Nieto says it's important for women to de-stress. "If there's not a good outlet or good coping skills for that kind of stress, over time that can certainly create a problem (with heart health)."

Dr. Nieto says that there are some differences between men and women when it comes to signs and symptoms of a heart attack. "For men, we're classically taught that signs include crushing chest pain, it radiates down the arm, maybe up the jaw. For women, it can present that way, but it doesn't always. Sometimes there's shortness of breath, sometimes heartburn, sometimes it can present as lightheadedness, things that just don't really make sense."

Dr. Nieto recommends women get a heart health screening early, whether from their internal medicine or family care doctor, or even their OB-GYN. "Have labs and physicals done regularly, and establish an exercise routine. Regular exercise allows us to have a fitness foundation, so that if there is some sort of a change, you know, 'I was running two miles and now after five minutes I need to stop and rest,' that's a red flag and requires more investigation."


Mark Ross

Mark Ross is an anchor/producer for ABC-7.


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