Ten months ago, Doctor Gladys Velarde was helping a cardiovascular emergency at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. Her patient had a long diagnosis of stress and episodes of panic attack, which in fact turned out to be a severe blockage in her heart. “Through The Strong Women’s Heart Program I felt Dr. Velarde changed my life,” said Connie Reybrouck. Today, at UF – Shands Hospital in Jacksonville, the Peruvian-born cardiologist starts a new battle.
Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women in the United States. However, for more than two decades, more women than men have died of heart disease annually.
“During my training in the field of cardiovascular medicine I have witnessed a constant deficit for female patient care,” said Dr. Velarde, Medical Director, Cardiovascular Women’s Heart Program. In her view, treatment and research of cardiovascular diseases have been conducted under a masculine perspective since male physicians have monopolized the medical field for decades. “Heart campaigns have always been male-centered,” the cardiologist said to Eco Latino.
According to the doctor, signs of cardiovascular disease have been normalized primarily for males,
when one of the principal challenges is to recognize
that the symptoms of heart disease in women can be very different from symptoms in men.
Because of this, the University of Florida Shands Jacksonville Cardiovascular Center started a program led by Dr. Velarde to specifically address the heart health needs of women.
“The program will bring much needed education to other physicians and health care providers in the area through seminars and symposia, said Dr. Velarde. “These particular health fairs are different, they are conducted by doctors who do more than take vital signs,” she explained.
“We evaluate the community health standards in site; the fair also enables us to educate patients on prevention. When we perform medical checkups using established diagnostic metrics we can target specific treatments and also increase the number of women participating in clinical research studies.”
The cardiologist highlighted the contribution of the University of Florida – Shands Cardiovascular Center to fulfill the need for women heart patients.
The reality is that one in four women dies
of heart disease in the U.S. each year. Despite
this reality, she said, less than 25 percent of heart
research applies directly to women. “We need to change this. It’s simply unacceptable.” ))