Fayetteville, Ga. (February 18, 2014) – It took six months and visits with seven different doctors before Newnan resident Linda Botkin turned to Piedmont Heart of Fayetteville for answers and was diagnosed with coronary artery disease, the number one killer of women in the United States.
It all started when, for the first time in Botkin’s 45 years of working as a Delta flight attendant, she felt extremely nauseated and dizzy on a flight to Los Angeles. Upon her return home, Botkin stepped into the shower but as soon as she got out, the room began to spin just as it did on the plane.
“I never get sick, so when I would have to sit down after walking through the airport, I knew something was wrong,” said Botkin. “I just wasn’t feeling up to par.”
Doctors initially misdiagnosed her with vertigo but Botkin’s symptoms of nausea and dizziness continued. Finally, Botkin met with Bukola Olubi, M.D., cardiologist at Piedmont Heart, who saw something on her heart scan that pointed to something more serious – coronary artery disease.
“Because its symptoms can be subtle in women, coronary artery disease can be difficult to spot,” said Dr. Olubi. “Some people go decades without knowing they have it because it develops as plaque in the heart’s arteries build up, reducing the blood flow to the heart. Some women may not realize they have coronary artery disease until they have more severe symptoms like a heart attack.”
Coronary artery disease affects 16 million men and women in the U.S. Symptoms include heaviness, tightness, pressure, and/or pain in the chest; pain radiating in the arms, shoulders, jaw, neck, and/or back; shortness of breath; weakness and fatigue; or no symptoms at all, depending on the severity of the disease.
“The biggest factor that puts women at greater risk for heart disease is lifestyle choices,” said Dr. Olubi. “More than half of women in Georgia struggle with obesity or being overweight, and 15 percent of Georgia women smoke cigarettes – another major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.”
Other risk factors for coronary artery disease are high cholesterol and triglycerides levels, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, a diet with high saturated fat and diabetes.
“Some women just don’t feel like they have to go to the doctor - I never went to the doctor before this,” said Botkin. “I never had any pain in my chest, arms or even had a headache so I just assumed everything was okay.”
For more information or to assess your risk for heart disease with a simple quiz, visit piedmontheart.org.