How Gender Plays a Role in Heart Disease

Donna Zfat-Zwas, MD, MPH, is a cardiologist and the Director of the Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Center for Women, in the Division of Cardiology at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem, Israel. A graduate of Harvard Medical School and Barnard College, she's works with varying populations and believes her mission is to increase awareness of cardiovascular disease as a significant cause of death and illness in women throughout Israel.

About the Episode

"Am I having a heart attack?"

Barbara Sofer, the Hadassah Israel Director of Public Relations, was at synagogue one Saturday when she felt a sharp pain and asked herself that very question. She rushed to the hospital and got a wake-up call.

She met with Dr. Donna Zwas, a cardiologist and the Director of the Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Center for Women at the Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem. "It wasn't a heart attack, but it did raise my consciousness," Sofer recalled. "And I became one of Dr. Zwas' patients, so that was something maybe good that happened from it."

The two women join host Benyamin Cohen on this very special episode which coincides with American Heart Month.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death everywhere in the world and impacts both genders. But having gone through experiences like childbirth and menopause, women can have a higher threshold to pain, and often brush off symptoms of an impending heart attack. Moreover, women who have certain conditions during pregnancy — like hypertension of pre-eclampsia — have a significant risk of heart disease.

"The most important thing to me in terms of what I do is to empower women to listen to themselves," explained Dr. Zwas. "We're so busy worrying about everyone else that we are not worrying about ourselves. You need to take yourself seriously and take the next step. It's okay to go to the ER for a false alarm. And we have to help people understand and feel good that they took care of themselves."

Hadassah's Linda Joy Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Center for Women aims to tackle these issues head on. Health activist and philanthropist Irene Pollin endowed the center after her daughter passed away from congenital heart disease. The center conducts medical research and works on projects to encourage women to lead heart healthy lifestyles, often embarking out to under-served communities to do so.

In this episode, Dr. Zwas talks about some of the various projects that the center is working on, how women are uniquely impacted by this disease, and offers some simple tips besides dieting to improve our heart health.

Further reading:

Saving Women's Hearts: The Dangers of Delay and the Power of Education
Video: Dr. Donna Zwas on the differences between men and women when it comes to heart disease
Hadassah's Linda Joy Pollin Women's Wellness Center: Expanding its Reach and Influence

This month:
February is American Heart Month to help raise awareness about heart health along with ways to prevent heart disease. #WearRed #OurHearts

For behind the scenes photos of this episode, click here 

Read a transcript of this episode.

"Hadassah On Call: New Frontiers in Medicine" is a production of Hadassah, The Women's Zionist Organization of America. Hadassah enhances the health of people around the world through medical education, care and research innovations at the Hadassah Medical Organization. For more information on the latest advances in medicine please head over hadassah.org.

Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, or your favorite podcast app. If you haven't already, please leave us a review on the iTunes store. It only takes a minute and when you do it helps others discover "Hadassah on Call."

The show is hosted by Benyamin Cohen and edited by Skyler Inman and the team at the Hadassah offices in both New York and Israel.

This episode includes promotions for:

Hadassah Israel Travel
The doors are open, come on in. Israel and Hadassah welcome you. Whether it's your first or 10th trip, come immerse yourself in the Israel that we've helped build for over 100 years. We bring you an experience like no other — from the famous Chagall Windows to the sacred sites and the smells of the outdoor markets. Plus: Exclusive experiences with Israel's top chefs, artists, government officials and lots more. Hadassah unlocks a journey you won't find anywhere else. Visit hadassah.org/israeltravel or call 1-800-237-1517 for our 2020 travel itineraries and discounts. Singles and couples are welcome.


The Branch
This podcast offers a glimpse into the everyday lives of Jews and Arabs in Israel forging meaningful relationships. Presented by Hadassah and hosted by Dina Kraft, "The Branch" shines a light on the stories of people living the example of a shared society. Together. Even though it's complicated. hadassah.org/thebranch

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