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Getting to the heart of the problem

Getting to the heart of the problem

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women. But right now, women are more likely to die from heart attacks then men. No matter your gender, any symptoms of a heart attack should be taken seriously.

Learn to read the signs

When your heart isn’t getting enough oxygen, you may experience a feeling called angina. It can be a sign that you are at risk for having a heart attack. Angina is often referred to as "chest pain," but this can be misleading because it’s not always painful, and it’s not always in the chest. Many women have other symptoms along with—or instead of—chest pain or discomfort. Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, back, arm, shoulder, or abdomen
  • Feeling light-headed, faint, or weak for no clear reason
  • Arm or shoulder pain
  • Shortness of breath while doing something that used to be easy
  • Heartburn, nausea, or a burning feeling that seems unrelated to food

You may be surprised to learn that heart disease is the biggest threat to your health—even more so than breast cancer. And the same factors that put you at risk of a heart attack, also known as acute myocardial infarction, or AMI, also increase your chances of stroke and other health problems.

The main risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Diabetes
  • Family history
  • Obesity

Women often don’t realize their symptoms could be related to heart trouble. If you feel any of the symptoms listed and have any of the above risk factors, see your healthcare provider and ask to be tested for heart disease—even if you’re not sure that’s the cause. Tests, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG), stress echocardiogram, nuclear imaging and cardiac cath, will reveal more about the problem. If your heart is in trouble, your body may send you warning signs. It’s up to you to notice these and talk to your healthcare provider about them. Your health—and your life—could depend on it.

 Dr. Carlos Rodriguez-FierroAbout Dr. Carlos Rodriguez-Fierro: 

Carlos Rodriguez-Fierro, MD serves as Medical Director of West Jefferson Cardiology Center. He is Founder and President of Doctors to the Rescue, a New Orleans based group of about 15 area physicians who travel to rural Latin American villages to provide hands-on advanced medical care several times a year.

He has served as Chairman of the Board for St. George's Episcopal School, New Orleans. He has is also past President of Jefferson Physicians Foundation, past President of Hispanic American Medical Association of Louisiana (HAMAL), past President of Jefferson Parish Medical Society and the ACC Foundation, past Board Member for the New Orleans Hispanic Heritage Foundation and past Board Member for Jefferson Community Health Clinic.

Since 2012, under his leadership, the Jefferson Physicians' Foundation (JPF) has coordinated health screenings and delivered health and emergency preparedness information in a bilingual manner for the states of Louisiana and Mississippi. By working in a collaborative effort that brings together more than 20 nonprofits, JPF reaches the goal of the integration of individuals and families into the healthcare delivery system in a multicultural and friendly setting, which encourages participants to be proactive and take responsibility for sustaining a holistically healthy lifestyle.

Born in Ecuador, Rodriguez-Fierro grew up in New York City and attended college and medical school at the University of Miami. After finishing his fellowship there in 1992, he moved to New Orleans and joined the Cardiology Center. He also served on the Board of the Hearts of the Americas, an organization that promotes cardiovascular medicine in underserved areas of Latin America. From that came the creation of Doctors to the Rescue.

Dr. Rodriguez-Fierro currently resides in New Orleans with his wife Ingrid and their children Nicole, Christina, Carlos Gabriel, Priscilla, Julian, and Christian.