Annabelle Volgman says too many women feel ignored or dismissed by their doctors and the need for a place where they felt they could be taken seriously was a major impetus behind the Rush Heart Center for Women.

Volgman, who is the center’s medical director, has published numerous articles about women and heart disease and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Council of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. WomenHeart is the nation’s only patient-centered organization supporting the 42 million women living with heart disease. The non-profit charity also provides all of these services for free.

“In 12 years of practicing cardiology before opening the Rush Heart Center for Women the message I heard from my patients was their doctors didn’t listen to them. Some women who came to Rush felt the doctors made a conclusion about what was wrong with them the minute they walked through the door. They were diagnosed, not with a problem with their hearts, but rather with a problem in their heads,” Volgman told Today’s Chicago Woman.

“Many women were told not to worry about their hearts since the problem was most likely just stress or anxiety. In my practice, 95 percent of these women turned out to have heart conditions, which were often missed by the previous doctors. It’s no wonder there have been more women than men dying from heart disease since 1984.”

According to the American Heart Association, every minute in the United States, someone’s wife, mother, daughter or sister dies from heart disease, stroke or other form of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

A third of women, overall, and nearly half of black American women are living with CVD. Heart disease death rates have declined steadily over the last 25 years for men, but the decline has been significantly lower for women, the AHA said.

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