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Heart Disease: The Symptoms Many Might Not Recognize
Updated: Wednesday, February 19 2014, 06:30 PM EST
Heart disease kills more women every year than all other forms of cancer combined. Because of the nature of the symptoms, many don't even know they have it until it's too late.
One Maryland woman who came dangerously close to death said she would never have seen the warning signs if it hadn't been for a routine checkup. Last winter June Markland, a jewelry designer, noticed that working with her hands had become more difficult.
"I'd have this squeezing feeling, sometimes I'd have it in both arms, and my veins would just pop out," Markland said. Having gone through breast cancer treatment in the 90s, she wrote the pain off as a side effect of radiation - until a routine checkup in December.
"When I saw [the doctor] and he said blocked artery that's all I heard - I didn't hear anything else," Markland said. The main artery in her heart was 99% blocked, putting her dangerously close to a heart attack.
It's a situation that Doctor Ali Tabrizchi says he sees all too often at the Lifebridge Health Cardiovascular Institute. Most, like Markland, don't recognize the systems.
"Their symptoms aren't classic," Tabrizchi said. "They have shortness of breath, they have fatigue...so by the time we diagnose heart disease in females, their heart disease has progressed to a very advanced state."
Markland underwent surgery the very next went, having a stent implanted to expand the artery.
"I said, 'Before we start, I just want to say one thing, thank you.' He said, 'What do you mean,' and I said, 'Because you saved my life.'"
Today Markland is back to doing what she loves, and feeling like once again she beats the odds.
Doctors say the best way to prevent heart disease is eat a healthy balanced diet, get regular exercise, and avoid smoking.