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Women vs. Men: Major Differences in Heart Health

From the Show: HER
Summary: Heart disease is the number one killer for both men and women; but there are major gender differences when it comes to heart health.
Air Date: 2/27/14
Duration: 10
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pamela Peek, MD
Guest Bio: Janine Austin Clayton, MD
Janine Austin ClaytonJanine Austin Clayton, M.D., is the Director of the Office of Research on Women's Health, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Associate Director for Research on Women's Health, NIH, in the NIH Office of the Director.

She is the author of over 80 scientific publications, journal articles, and book chapters. Prior to joining the Office of Research on Women's Health, she was the Deputy Clinical Director of the National Eye Institute (NEI), NIH. A board certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Clayton's research interests include autoimmune ocular diseases and the role of sex and gender in health and disease. Dr. Clayton has a particular interest in ocular surface disease and discovered a novel form of disease associated with premature ovarian insufficiency which affects young women.

A native Washingtonian, Dr. Clayton received her undergraduate degree with Honors from the Johns Hopkins University, and her medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine. She completed a residency in ophthalmology at the Medical College of Virginia and fellowship training in Cornea and External Disease at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and in Uveitis and Ocular Immunology at NEI.

Dr. Clayton is a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine. She currently serves on the FDA Advisory Panel for Ophthalmic Devices; the medical and scientific advisory board of Tissue Banks International; and the editorial board of The Ocular Surface. She was selected as a Silver Fellow by the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology and a recipient of the Senior Achievement Award from the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Dr. Clayton has received several awards from her NIH peers in recognition of her leadership. She co-chairs the NIH Working Group on Women in Biomedical Careers with the NIH Director.
Women vs. Men: Major Differences in Heart Health
Let's get to the heart of the matter! You may already know that heart disease is the number one killer for both men and women, but there are major gender differences between the two when it comes to heart health.

Many heart attack victims describe the classic "elephant sitting on your chest" symptoms. But that doesn't always occur in women. Instead women may have jaw pain, stomach pain, unusual fatigue or shortness of breath. The problem is, these types of real symptoms aren't typically triggers for women to go and seek care.  

With all the advances in the medical field, it's time to recognize that women and men need sex- and gender-appropriate healthcare. Focus is now being placed on educating clinicians and healthcare providers so they have a better understanding of the of the varying symptoms in heart health. 

If you feel like you might be having heart issues, there are certain tests that you should make sure to ask for (even in the ER). For instance, a coronary angiogram is a procedure that uses X-ray imaging to see your heart's blood vessels and helps diagnose heart conditions.

Janine Austin Clayton, MD, is the Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health, National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Associate Director for Research on Women’s Health. In this segment, Dr. Clayton provides examples of how research has taught us how to treat women and men differently with respect to health management. She also shares how you can take care of yourself to avoid this deadly disease.
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