Paisley Prescriptions - February 2022

Follow Your Heart to Good Health: Heart Disease & Stroke


February 2022 Issue
Pink Prescriptions
Follow Your Heart to Good Health: Heart Disease & Stroke

February is American Heart Month: a good time to focus on your cardiovascular health. Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States. Nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke every year. Heart Disease is the number one cause of death in this country, killing about 600,000 Americans annually. Both are serious health issues that can affect women, as well as men, so we asked local health experts to answer our questions about heart disease and stroke.
(Above statistics from


PYRx0222 ButlerBy Michael Butler, M.D.
Ascension St. Vincent’s Coastal Cardiology

My friend’s father died from a heart attack they called a “widow maker.” What is a widow maker? Can women get them, too?
The “widow maker” is just a blockage in a critical location. It can occur in men or women. The blockage is at the very beginning of the most important coronary artery. It supplies almost half of the heart with blood. So, if it blocks down, usually people don’t survive.

How do heart attack symptoms differ
between men and women?
On average, symptoms of a heart attack are the same for men and women. The problem is they can be subtle, chest pressure instead of pain. Often people ignore it, or blame their stomach when they are actually having a heart attack. Don’t ignore prolonged chest discomfort. Assume heart first because it will kill you. Stomach symptoms won’t kill you.

Congestive Heart Failure runs in my family.
How can I be proactive for my best health?

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is caused by a weak heart. A weak heart is caused by blocked arteries. So, to avoid CHF you need to avoid blocked arteries. The things that we can do is to not smoke and be of normal body weight. Most people are 40 pounds overweight. Obesity causes hypertension and diabetes that causes blockages that cause CHF.

Michael Butler, M.D. is a Fellow of The American College of Cardiology, with privileges at Southeast Georgia Health System—Brunswick Campus. He practices at Ascension St. Vincent’s Coastal Cardiology, 3226-A Hampton Avenue, Brunswick.

PYRx0222 Amodeo
By Phillip P. Amodeo, M.D.

Southeast Georgia Physician Associates–Neurology

What are the signs of stroke,
and what should I do if I notice them?

Any abrupt onset of numbness, weakness, or paralysis on one side of the body; facial droop; dizziness; loss of balance or coordination; speech or vision problem; or mental status change are signs of possible stroke. It’s important to call 911, or get to the nearest emergency room (ER) as soon as you recognize possible stroke symptoms. By calling 911, EMS will not only provide transportation, but will also give the ER pre-notification that helps expedite the process for getting patients assessed for time sensitive acute treatments like clot busting medicines and/or intra-arterial clot retrieval.

What is “Young Stroke,” and what can I do to avoid it?
Adult patients that are below age 55 would be considered young to suffer a stroke. The best way to avoid having a stroke is minimizing or controlling general stroke risk factors, such as hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes, abstaining from smoking, maintaining an ideal body weight, regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and abstaining from illicit drug use.

Patients in this age group who present with stroke symptoms to the Health System Emergency Care Center are generally screened for evidence of underlying clotting disorders, which, if identified, may need different medications to prevent further clots and further strokes.

Do some forms of birth control increase my risk for stroke or heart disease?
Older, high-dosed estrogen content oral contraceptive pills carried increased risk for heart attacks and strokes. The more commonly used, combined and lower dose estrogen-progestin oral contraception, have much less risk of stroke. However, this risk is still slightly higher than patients not taking these forms of oral contraceptive at all. This stroke risk is additive with other stroke risk factors listed above, particularly smoking, hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol.

Phillip P. Amodeo, M.D., board-certified neurologist at Southeast Georgia Physician Associates–Neurology and medical director for the Southeast Georgia Health System Stroke Program

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