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Heart Health: The Different Risks and Symptoms

Heart Health: The Different Risks and Symptoms

In this radio interview, Dr. Aarush Manchanda, author of the precision medicine book, Your Heart House: An Artisan’s Approach to Heart Health, discusses his heart house analogy, why patients need to be more aware of heart disease, and how women can have different symptoms.

The interview starts by discussing how fundamental it is to educate people about how they can improve their heart health, which is exactly what Dr. Manchanda set out to do in his book. At present, Dr. Manchanda receives patients through his door who don’t understand their heart, their condition, and what it means to their overall health. For example, he could get a patient through the door who’s been told by her primary care doctor that she’s got a heart murmur – she’s sweating and anxious and her first question is, “Doctor, am I going to die?”

Understanding the Different Risks to Heart Health

In his book, Dr. Manchanda uses a heart house analogy to describe heart conditions. So, just like your house has doors and rooms, your heart has valves and chambers. A murmur, for example, is a door problem and has nothing to do with a heart attack.

But if you have a plumbing problem – that’s when you’re at risk of having a heart attack. And it’s this differentiation that Dr. Manchanda wants to raise more awareness about, as he believes it will create shared decision making between the doctor and patient. By having this open communication, it will help improve outcomes and cut down on costs.

The interviewer rightly says that the analogy could be used for the entire body, but Dr. Manchanda says that the emphasis on the heart is important because heart disease is the number one killer. People need to understand the risks and how they can make changes to their lifestyle to reduce these issues.

Do Men and Women Have Different Symptoms?

Many women will have atypical symptoms. For example, one of Dr. Manchanda’s female patients was complaining of feeling tired all the time and had some gastral pain. Her EKG was abnormal but her blood tests were fine, so many doctors believed it couldn’t be her heart. However, Dr. Manchanda has developed some advanced imaging technology which allowed him to perform a cardiac CT.

Just as he expected, the patient had a 99% blockage in her front artery! Luckily, her body had tried to fight the blockage and had kept the blood flowing so she hadn’t had a heart attack. This meant doctors could operate to unblock her artery and save her life.

Dr. Manchanda explains that this is what makes heart disease so humbling. And if it can humble a genius like Dr. Manchanda – it should definitely humble us mere mortals.

That’s why we need to be aware of symptoms. And it’s sudden, unexpected feelings in particular that we need to watch out for. For example, if you’re sitting watching TV and you suddenly feel nauseous or a tightness in your chest, this could be a sign of a heart attack. If you can’t explain it – get it checked out.

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