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Dr. Andalib Nawab

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Dr. Nawab urges women to recognize their symptoms. Too often, women are unaware of the symptoms of heart disease, which can be subtle and range from unusual fatigue, shortness of breath and neck pain to nausea and chest pain.

Heart disease is the number one killer of women. It’s a fact. Heart disease kills more women than breast cancer, and yet women do not have a clue about the easily recognizable symptoms.

“Specifically, 42 million women have some form of heart disease, and 200,000 women die from heart disease each year; that’s five times more than breast cancer,” noted Dr. Andalib Nawab, cardiology internist at Cardiology Associates of Schenectady and Medical Director of Ellis Medicine’s Women and Heart Disease program. “Women younger than 65 years of age are two times more likely to die from heart disease than their male counterparts, and 63 percent have no prior symptoms. With breast cancer, you have time for treatment. Many times, the first cardiac event will be your last.”

Dr. Nawab urges women to recognize their symptoms. Too often, women are unaware of the symptoms of heart disease, which can be subtle and range from unusual fatigue, shortness of breath and neck pain to nausea and chest pain. Specifically, she explains that extreme fatigue might not be just because you’re busy with your children and life; it can signal heart disease, as can chest pain and pressure, dizziness and light-headedness, shortness of breath, profuse sweating and severe heartburn.

“Anxiety and that feeling that something is not right is a big signal. Often, women are misdiagnosed and labeled as anxious women, or told they have too much gas or gallbladder problems. Nobody focuses on the possibility that this may actually be a heart attack. Women need to familiarize themselves about how prevalent heart disease is in women,” she asserted. “This is not an old man’s disease!”

Ellis Medicine is leading the effort to beat heart disease in our community with a prevention program designed specifically for women. The Women and Heart Disease program features a simple heart screening to identify women at risk of heart disease and help keep them healthy. It’s the first program of its type in the region, and provides a comprehensive assessment in a single appointment.

When a woman comes in to get screened, a nurse navigator sits down and goes over the score sheet with her. A new atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, or ASCVD, risk assessment came out in 2013 that is more in depth, and the good news is that heart disease can often be prevented or treated if detected early. With the preventive heart screening from Ellis Medicine’s innovative program, women will receive an evaluation of their personal risk factors for heart disease; a consultation on the results from their risk assessment during the appointment, and referrals to specialists, such as a cardiologist, nutritionist or diabetes educator, if applicable. With just one appointment, a woman can understand her risk for heart disease and take the first steps toward a healthier life.

“For example, if a woman has high risk scores, such as a family history, or is a smoker or has diabetes, she can take steps to be in control of her own future. By quitting smoking and starting a moderate exercise program, she can dramatically decrease her risk for heart attack or stroke,” Dr. Nawab confirmed. “It’s so important for women. The American Heart Association did a study in 2012 that found if women between 25 and 45 find out their lifetime risk, they can change their lifestyle habits and live longer.”
The cost of the screening is just $25, and Cardiacure Cards are available at Price Chopper pharmacy, Sondra’s Fine Jewelry or online at One in three women die from heart disease, yet heart disease is preventable if detected with a simple screening.

Call 518-243-3333 today to make an appointment. The preventive heart screening is offered at two locations, Bellevue Woman’s Center, Neil and Jane Golub Breast and Heart Health Center, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and at 1201 Nott Street Medical Arts Building Community Wellness Program, Suite 304, Mondays and Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

“When you schedule your mammogram, you can have the cardiovascular screening done the same day, for less than the cost of a pedicure!” Dr. Nawab smiled. “I am often asked about the effects of baby aspirin, vitamin E and hormone replacement. I don’t recommend baby aspirin for women under 65 years of age or for women who don’t have any risk of heart disease. Vitamin E can actually increase the heart attack risk in women.

“I tell all of my patients that moderation in everything is the best way to live life!” Dr. Nawab reiterated.

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