September 13, 2017

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What you need to know before your next mammogram!

 

Just like you, I will soon don a hospital gown and endure the discomfort needed to get my annual mammogram. Typically, we face this exam with as much humor as possible … likening it to having “the girls” pressed into a refrigerator door.  Now, as it turns out, that annual mammogram might also help us identify more women at risk of heart disease!

 

Earlier this year, the American College of Cardiology presented a study that, for the first time, showed a link between the amount of calcium in the arteries of the breast and the level of calcium deposits in the coronary arteries! For women, especially younger women, finding out early that you have breast arterial calcifications could be a red flag that you also have heart disease!

 

The challenge the clinicians typically don’t report breast arterial calcification so you would have no way of knowing.  If you learn you have calcium in the arteries of your breast, this is where you – as the patient – should ask by “how much?”  According to Dr. Harvey Hecht, a lead author of the study, “the more breast arterial calcification a woman has, the more likely she is to have calcium in her heart’s arteries as well.” This is information we have a right to know … so don’t be afraid to ask!

 

If we can reach the millions of women getting mammograms with this message and help them KNOW their risk for heart disease, just think of how many mothers, sisters, wives and best friends we could potentially save!  And the good news is … that technology exists so there’s no reason to wait!

 

Each year, around 37 million mammograms are performed here in the US. Mammograms are recommended annually for women 40 years of age and every other year for women 50-75 years of age. 

 

For most women, this is our greatest health fear despite the fact that heart disease kills SIX TIMES more women each year than ALL of the cancers combined.

 

We know that early detection saves lives.  

 

It’s time our conversations include the entire spectrum of our health issues so we can save more lives.  It can start with YOU!

 

Be your own best advocate and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

 

If your mammogram shows calcium buildup in your breast, ask for specific information that can be shared with your doctor! 

 

Click here to read the article by the American College of Cardiology regarding the study!

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