Women and heart attacks

Lady Readers, this is for us.  Heart attack warning signs for women can be different than they are for men.  One of the first signs is denial.  “Me?  Having a heart attack?  Not me!”  Uh….yes, YOU!

Tuesday my mother had a mild heart attack.  She had been feeling discomfort in her left arm, left hand numbness, and pain in her upper back.  While it is true she is in constant pain from her osteo-arthritis, she did not isolate these as being warning signs —- for 7 days!  Not until she called her cardiologist to make an appointment who told her, “Get thee to an ER” which was after having received a pain injection from her pain management doctor earlier in the day and after waking up from a nap with the same pains and now chest pain included in the mix did she go.

Once at the hospital she was whisked into the cath lab where 3 arteries were cleared of blockage and 5 stents inserted.  There she remains “feeling great” and hoping to go home soon.

The denial is real ladies.  How do I know?  Been there.  Done that.  Once with the hubster.  And when I was having a terrible bout of heart burn, the nurse at the doc’s office had to talk me into going to the ER because it could have been a heart attack.  And what was I doing?  Arguing with her!!  “No, I know it is not a heart attack!!” I kept saying.  Geesh.  I went.  I was right.  But…what if I had been wrong?!

So I offer you the following information Lady Readers.

“They wish that they had known that symptoms such as neck and shoulder pain, abdominal discomfort that was easy to mistake for indigestion, or unusual fatigue could signal a heart problem,” she said. “They often said that TV doesn’t show examples of the symptoms they experienced. If they knew, they would have responded to the symptoms sooner.”

Warning signs can include:
  • Nausea and vomiting that won’t stop
  • Breathlessness (but not sighing) with exertion or especially if it wakes you up at night
  • Chest discomfort that starts behind the breast bone and radiates to either shoulder or arm, neck, or to the lower (but not upper) jaw
  • Discomfort in the lower jaw especially if it occurs only with exertion or will not go away
  • Discomfort in the upper back especially if it occurs only with exertion or will not go away
  • Discomfort in the chest or back that occurs when doing usual chores after a large meal
  • Sudden onset of weakness that won’t go away
  • Sudden racing heart sensation with a very fast pulse
  • Sudden loss of consciousness
  • Physical inability to perform usual household chores

Who is most at risk with these symptoms? The more of these factors that apply to you, the greater your risk.  (My mom has every single one of these risk factors.)

  • Menstruation has stopped
  • Smoking
  • Family history of arteriosclerotic heart disease before age 60
  • High blood pressure (even treated)
  • Diabetes (even mild, even treated)
  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol (even treated)

Let’s pay attention!!!


5 thoughts on “Women and heart attacks

  1. I will be praying for your mother. It is terrifying that women’s symptoms are so different – everything to read seems aimed only at men.

  2. Thank you for pulling all this information together. Women do have very different symptoms than men do, and all to often they are overlooked, ignored, or unrecognized. Your post goes a long way toward educating us. Thank you.

  3. She what??????????? Lord have Mercy.
    Give her a hug from me and know she is in my prayers.

    (very good post, thank you)

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