By Amy M. Collins, associate editor
Several days ago, we linked on our Facebook page to an abstract of a JAMA article that found that women hospitalized for myocardial infarction were more likely than men to present without chest pain. A few days later, my 59-year-old mother was told by her general practitioner that her ECG had shown an electric “blip” that could be due to scarring from an unnoticed heart attack. My mother—always too lax about these things (unlike her hypochondriac daughter)—calmly told me she always has random chest pains and it could have happened at any time.
A visit to the cardiologist a few days later eased our fears. She hadn’t had a heart attack, but was diagnosed with right bundle branch block and has to undergo further testing. With high C-reactive protein levels, elevated cholesterol, and a history of heart disease in the family, one can’t be too careful. A stress test and cardiac ultrasound have been ordered.
In discussing her cholesterol level, which had increased since my mother’s last wellness exam, the cardiologist suggested she start taking statins. Not keen on medication, and worried by recent reports of adverse effects from these drugs, she said she’d rather only start with that if there were no other options. […]