Women’s Open Heart Program
The Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Women’s Open Heart Program was created to help increase awareness and reduce cardiovascular disease in women through screening, community outreach, research, and patient education. Women with multiple risk factors are guided to help reduce their risk, better manage their heart disease, and take greater control of their health.
Women are unique, particularly when it comes to their hearts. When women who have advanced heart disease need surgery, data from across the United States shows that women are at higher risk for complications when compared to men. Although there are obvious biological differences between men and women, there are complex issues that contribute to this specific risk in heart disease.
One reason is that women tend to present with heart disease several years later than men, and with older age can come other co-existing conditions. Advanced age can be associated with progressive diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension, each of which may increase the severity of coronary artery disease. The presence of these factors by themselves can increase complications after surgery.
Another reason is that women more often require urgent, rather than elective, cardiac procedures. This may be due to a delay in diagnosing women with atypical symptoms until it is more advanced. Women may also tend to ignore subtle symptoms or shortness of breath without realizing that this may be due to heart disease.
Even after successful surgery is completed, women have a significantly increased chance of readmission to the hospital during the first year after surgery. Women, as the main caregivers in many families, often do not take the time needed to care properly for themselves, even after heart surgery. Women have shown higher rates of depression and less ability to return to their former activities.
One way of counteracting these risks has been the introduction of more minimally invasive heart surgery. In certain cases, this can mean either smaller, less painful incisions, or heart surgery performed without the complications associated with the use of a heart-lung machine.
At Mount Sinai St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, we realize that women are unique. Our Women’s Open Heart Program emphasizes the importance of taking control of heart disease after surgery by increasing education, modifying risk factors, changing attitudes, and improving lifestyles.