Does Family History Dictate Your Heart Health?
Holly Andersen, MD, is too good-looking to be a cardiologist. I'm sitting in her office wondering who slipped the J.Jill model behind her desk. She keeps two 12-pound barbells on the credenza and does sets in between seeing patients. "Even if I can do it for just 20 or 30 seconds, I've done something for me," she says. As director of education at the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, she's big on the idea of women doing something for themselves. She knows that many women have a "family and work first" attitude that puts their own health low on their to-do list.
Personally, I take a certain pride in not going to the doctor. Doctors are for wusses. Also, they always find something wrong -- as my mother, herself a doctor, used to tell me. I hate doctors. Unless they make me look better, in which case I love them. Let's review: Yes to dermatologists, no to virtually everyone else.
So what made me think that perhaps, at 50, I should go to a cardiologist? Well, recently I've been having palpitations and occasional shortness of breath. And a while back I wound up in the emergency room, thinking I was having a heart attack. Many hours later I learned I wasn't. It was actually a panic attack. Gee, could it have to do with any of the following?
1. My dad died. 2. Then my mom died. 3. My husband's a bit of a geezer. 4. My son has Asperger's syndrome. 5 My other son says he hates school. 6. I'm the breadwinner. 7. Nearly everyone in my family drops dead from a stroke or heart attack. Pick one.