Ms. Diagnosed

FRESNO, Calif.

It's Billie-Marie Morrison's job to stay tuned-in to her health. In fact, her health-themed radio show began with her own personal issues.

"I thought I had a cold that wouldn't go away," Morrison, a women's heart health advocate, told Ivanhoe.

First, she was diagnosed with pneumonia, then bronchitis. Turns out, her doctors were way off.

"I'm like ... congestive heart failure," Morrison said.

More women than men die from heart disease each year. However, women get just 33 percent of angioplasties and 36 percent of open-heart surgeries. The result: 75 percent of men survive a first heart attack, while only 62 percent of women do.

"Sometimes, women just feel short of breath, nauseated, sweaty and that could be a full-blown heart attack," Carlos Fonte, M.D., a cardiologist at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, told Ivanhoe.

Here's a question for women: fatigue, weight gain and hair loss means perimenopause and depression, right? The actual diagnosis: hypothyroidism.

How about dizziness in women, loss of leg control and vomiting? Inner ear issues, right? The actual diagnosis: a stroke.

"Their memory is getting worse and sometimes this is a sign that they're having a mini stroke," Dr. Fonte added.

Mary Hegland thought weight gain and fatigue meant she was getting older.

"I actually thought my blood pressure medicine wasn't working," Hegland told Ivanhoe.

She gained 43 pounds in 19 days and was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Then, she was told it was pneumonia. The real problem: congestive heart failure.

"I went in on Tuesday. I would have been dead on Friday," Hegland said.

Ashlee Seymour
Director of Marketing & Media, Sunrise Hospital

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