A very scary night...Please read!!

I am writing this in the hopes that by reading this, someone else may recognize these symptoms and get the help they need...

Someone I know and love had what started out as back pain last night - she wasn't worried, because she'd been lifting and doing housework, so maybe she strained a muscle... she had her husband rub it, but it only made it worse... and she felt nauseas - she got up to lie on the couch, but couldn't get comfortable - the pain started coming through to her chest and it felt heavy...

Again, she wasn't worried because her arms didn't hurt and the pain wasn't on her left side... she went to the medicine cabinet and got out some tylenol for muscle pain and took it, hoping for enough relief to go to sleep... She wan't concerned because she didn't have the widely publicized heart attack symptoms  - she even said "I'd be worried if it was on my left side"

After another half hour, someone convinced her to head to the hospital because the pain wasn't abating... and it's a good thing they did - she was having a heart attack!

According to Patricia A.Grady, PhD, RN, Director of the NINR, "Increasingly, it is evident that women's symptoms are not as predictable as men's. This study offers hope that both women and clinicians will realize the wide range of symptoms that can indicate heart attack. It is important not to miss the earliest possible opportunity to prevent or ease AMI, which is the number one cause of death in both women and men." (1)
Womens symptoms of a heart attack are not the same as mens - but many women don't know that - and this woman certainly didn't think she was having a heart attack..

Every year hundreds of thousands of women die as the result of a heart attack or other cardiovascular disease. What many people, including many healthcare professionals, don't realize is that the symptoms of heart attack in women are often different than in men. Women are more likely to experience nausea, dizziness, and anxiety as symptoms that indicate a heart attack. (2)

  • Chest pain-may also include back pain and/or deep aching and throbbing in one or both arms.
  • Breathlessness and/or inability to catch your breath when waking up.
  • Clammy sweating.
  • Dizziness--unexplained lightheadedness, possible blackouts.
  • Anxiety--unusual nervousness, feelings of impending doom.
  • Edema--fluid retention and swelling usually of the ankles or lower legs.
  • Fluttering--rapid heartbeats, palpitations.
  • Nausea--gastric upset.
Feeling of heaviness, such as pressure-like chest pain between the breasts that may radiate to the left arm or shoulder.
Because she didn't know that her symptoms were serious, she delayed in getting treatment, but fortunately, not so long that she isn't recovering.  We don't know her long term prognosis yet - it will be 30 to 60 days before we know how extensive the permanent damage might be, but we do know that any further delay could have been devastating!

The woman in question is an otherwise healthy 60 something woman who showed no signs or symptoms of heart disease or other issues - heck, she hadn't been sick in at least a dozen years, and had a physical a year ago...  but she smoked and that caught up with her...

At this point, we're hoping that all this will be is a serious warning and red flag and that she will make a full recovery, because she's loved and needed by her family and friends...

My request to you all, as women, is if you feel unusually ill - don't ignore it!!! All of the symptoms above can be attributed to other things, but treat it seriously and treat yourself seriously - it really doesn't hurt to go and get checked out - please use the better safe than sorry method.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in women and it is the most preventable cause of death. Women should pay particular attention to these symptoms and seek immediate advice from a healthcare professional if these symptoms occur. (2)
I'm so glad that we were able to get this woman treated in time, and I ask for all of your good thoughts for a speedy and full recovery!!!

(1) http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/healthmedical/a/womensami.htm
(2) http://womenshealth.about.com/cs/heartdisease/a/sympofheartatta.htm