By simply hooking up a few sensors to a patient
on a treadmill, stress tests can instantly tell doctors a lot about a patient’s heart.
For decades they have been the test of choice, and given how easy and inexpensive they can
be, it’s not surprising.>>MARTHA GULATI, MD: But what is surprising,
is the fact that all the research that describes stress testing initially, and that has gone
on for almost more than 40 years – was only done on men.
>>NARRATOR: That means all the guidelines that determine who is fit – and how fit they
should be – aren’t always accurate in women. And that’s something doctor Martha Gulati
of Ohio State University Medical Center is hoping to change. Since 1992, Gulati and a
team of researchers have been following 6,000 women – putting them through countless exams
and stress tests. And she’s finding the formula for heart health isn’t always the
same for everyone.>>MARTHA GULATI: I looked at what their age-predicted
fitness level should be and we found a completely different equation than what has been established
in men.>>NARRATOR: For example, there are readings
known as S-T Segments that measure blood flow to the heart. Those readings are often different
in women – and things like blood pressure and fitness level – seem to play a different
role than they do in men. That’s information women like Harriett O’Toole should know.
This former marathon runner had a heart attack she never saw coming – although there were
clues.>>HARRIETT O’TOOLE: Looking back and researching
family members, the male side of the family had had many heart attacks, most of them fatal.
>>NARRATOR: Which is why Gulati says women who get stress tests should ask about female-specific
readings. Even if they look good today, these tests can hold clues to future problems, but
only if they’re read properly. At Ohio State University Medical Center, this is Clark