ROCKY HILL, CT (WFSB) – Denise D’Ascenzo was known for helping people stay healthy through her medical reporting.

It’s fitting that over the last few days, women have been talking to their doctors more about heart health.

Denise’s family believes that she passed away over the weekend after a heart attack.

Even in death, Denise is truly making an impact. She always had a passion for health reporting, including stories about heart health.

“I’ve had numerous patients ask me questions. I’ve had my staff in particular ask me questions, how did this happen, how does this happen, how is it missed. People are really upset,” said Dr. Heather Swales.

Cardiologist Heather Swales is the director of the Women’s Heart Wellness Center at the Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain.

She says heart disease does not discriminate and women need to take extra precautions.

“Sudden death from heart attack is actually more common in women than in men, and women are more likely to not have had any symptoms before they have sudden death,” Swales said.

That’s why it’s especially important for women to see their doctor regularly and get screening for things like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, which can all alert doctors that something may be wrong.

“We have excellent treatments, but we can’t help you if we don’t know about it and you don’t talk to us,” Swales said.

The symptoms women deal with prior to a heart attack can be more subtle than the chest pain men often feel.

Instead, women may experience what seems like indigestions, heart burn, or nausea that builds over time.

“So, it may not be that dramatic movie scene where you’re clutching your chest and suddenly having a massive heart attack. It may have been leading up over the preceding several days or several weeks,” Swales said.

So, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment or call 911 if you suspect something is wrong.

“I think it’s really important that people take it seriously recognizing it is the leading killer. They shouldn’t feel stigmatized or bad about it because it can affect anyone. It doesn’t discriminate,” Swales said.

Copyright 2019 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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