On August 15, 2007 my eldest and beloved sister, Yukie, died. The day before she died she went to her doctor. That was a Tuesday. The previous Monday she had fallen while walking, this was the third time that this had happened. Concerned, she once again went to her doctor, had a well woman exam, and was dubbed healthy. The next night while talking to her daughter on the phone she fell silent never to regain consciousness. I believe that the health protocol for women’s physical exams needs to be changed so that an EKG is always administered and baseline echocardiograms are given at 60, 50, 40 , 30, and even 20 years of age. If you are a woman the probability is that you will die of heart disease, one out of every 2.6 women do each year. That equals to approximately forty two percent of the women who die. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. Six times more women die from heart disease then from the number two cause of death, cancer. If the protocol is changed; countless women will be saved. Many of the women who died were contributors to society. My sister was a principle at an alternative high school in Baytown, Texas. The salaries of these women contributed to the economy of our country. Many of them are mothers, some of small children. Children do better when there is both a mom and a dad taking care of them. Critics will say that it will cost too much, but really what is the price of a life. Besides by requiring that every doctor follow the new protocol; the number of EKG and Echocardiogram machines floating around will increase and supply and demand should bring down their price. Insurance agencies may balk because they may not want to pay, but in the long run they could save money. How many times does a woman, with undiagnosed heart disease, go to her doctor only to leave with indigestion medicine or anti anxiety pills? We have all heard stories of the woman who went to the emergency room with complaints only to be sent home where she later died because no one knew she was having a heart attack because the symptoms of heart attack are different in women than in men. Some will say because there is a lot we don’t know about heart disease in women then more studies should be conducted before we take the step of changing the protocol. In the mean time more women will die. It might be you or your sister. February is heart disease awareness month. Doctors will tell us women to eat a low fat diet, exercise and relax more. These three things will cut our risk of heart disease and save lives. They are right. We should do these things. However; changing the protocol will help too. This one little change will save countless lives, this I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.