Dr. Volgman shares if a woman scheduling heart surgery would be better served by a women's heart specialist.
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Do Women Heart Specialist Work Better with Women I think that it’s too generalized. I think that there are great heart surgeons that are very good; the problem is recognition of the heart disease. What we are finding out from the studies that were done in women is that women don’t necessarily have smaller blood vessels in their hearts, it’s that we develop the plaque circumferentially so that it’s throughout the whole blood vessel, and it looks like there’s no blockage because the deposits are throughout the whole blood vessels. So it’s look like small blood vessels whereas it’s really plaque-laden blood vessels that look smaller because there’s less opening. So that’s another misconception is that women have smaller arteries. If you have a smaller heart, then yes, maybe you have smaller arteries that are appropriate for the heart. But if you have risk factors such as diabetes, cigarette smoking, and you are having chest pain, and the doctor tells you your arteries are fine, they are just smaller, that’s when the flag should go up in the doctor and the patient’s mind that maybe they are not small arteries. Maybe they are just plaque-laden arteries that in the angiogram look smaller. But there are more technologies now that are better at looking at soft plaque. The problem for women is that the radiation level is so high and the heart is in between our breasts, so whenever we get a 64-slice CT or one of the CAT scans, we are radiating our breasts so that we are putting ourselves at risk for breast cancer. So it’s a no-win situation, unfortunately.