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Dr Manny's Notes

Know the Signs: Mild Heart Attack Sends Cheney to Hospital

Former Vice President Dick Cheney found himself in the hospital again due to a mild heart attack Monday night after complaining of chest pain. He is currently at George Washington University Hospital in D.C. where he was kept overnight, and sources say he will be released in a day or two.

Cheney is no stranger to these types of hospital visits, with cardiovascular problems starting when he was as young as 37 years old. While in office he took frequent trips to the emergency room, and has had four heart attacks in the past 32 years.

Because of his health history, Cheney is very knowledgeable about his condition, and therefore cautious. He is well-versed in recognizing the signs and symptoms of chest pain and discomfort, and goes to the hospital right away. This is not his first time, and he knows that if you are having any symptoms, it's better to go to the hospital and find out it's not serious than to not go and have a real problem on your hands.

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When Cheney showed up at GW Hospital Monday night, he probably had some standard testing done. One of the tests administered when you are admitted for chest pain is an angiogram. An angiogram is a test that places a catheter up to the heart through the femoral artery in the groin, allowing doctors to see any kind of obstruction. If needed, a stent, made of a small piece of steel, can be placed in the artery to increase blood flow and prevent future heart problems.

Former President Bill Clinton had this procedure done just a couple of weeks ago, when they found an obstruction in one of his coronary arteries.

The symptoms that Cheney felt before his mild heart attack yesterday could have included: -feeling of indigestion -chest pain, like someone is stepping on your chest -pain or numbness in the jaw -arm pain -shortness of breath -dizziness

One of the most important risk factors for a heart attack is your level of cholesterol. A normal cholesterol level is 200; any higher and you could be putting yourself in danger for a heart problem. Eating healthy and exercising are also essential to heart health.

However, keep in mind that doing all the right things won't protect you from the genetic component of heart disease, but getting regular checkups from your doctor will help you keep tabs.

Even though heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, women don't perceive it as a high risk. Most people expect when someone is having a heart attack, they clutch their chest and fall to the ground. The symptoms of a heart attack, especially for women, are much more subtle. Women who have suffered a heart attack often describe a funny feeling in their chest, or think its indigestion. Don't stay home and take an antacid, get to your doctor to avoid serious damage to your heart.