Q&A: Women’s heart care cardiologist Dr. David Addley
With more than 10 years as an attending cardiologist, David J. Addley, DO, FACC, listens differently to his female patients.
If he hears cardiac symptoms unique to women, his medical instincts will point toward testing for cardiovascular disease, allowing him to guide these patients back to cardiac health.
Q. Do you discuss heart health differently with female patients?
Health risks are the same for men and women, but I am more aggressive when it comes to educating my female patients about their heart disease symptoms, which we now know are very different than a man’s.
Q. What are these unique symptoms?
Women with heart disease won’t typically experience gripping chest pain. Instead, they often experience headaches, shortness of breath, a vague chest discomfort and fatigue. As a cardiologist, my ears perk up when I hear a female patient say she’s unusually tired for no apparent reason.
Q. Why do women often ignore these symptoms of cardiovascular disease?
Many women assume it’s the flu, or they’re fatigued because they work in an office and then go home to take care of the family. I tell my patients to never assume anything. Too often I see patients in ICU because they waited too long for symptoms to go away.
Q. What do you want women to know about cardiovascular disease?
If your instincts tell you that something’s not right, see your doctor, ask questions and don’t leave until you understand those answers. Knowledge is so important. I make recommendations based on my expertise, but I always make sure my patients feel comfortable with every decision.
David J. Addley, DO, FACC, is a cardiologist and internist at Mercy Philadelphia Hospital and a published novelist.