What Every Woman Needs to Know about Heart Attacks

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As we mourn All of the people who have passed in 2016, one of the more recent deaths has hit me hard.   Carrie Fisher was someone I grew up on.  From When Harry Met Sally to Star Wars, she was a household name.  SO when she had a Heart Attack on December 23rd, I had a bad feeling that this would be the thing that did her in.   Sadly, on December 27th, I was right.

Having a Heart Attack is my irrational fear right now that was rooted in my miscarriage which you can read about Here.  They told me my heart was trying to stop (even though it was just me passing out) and from then on I was scared to move.  I sat on the couch, day in and day out, which was the LAST thing I should have done looking back, because now I am supremely out of shape.   I’m taking steps to get my body back on track but in having so much fear, I did a lot of research.

**Let me preface this with one thing….I am in NO WAY, shape, or form a Doctor.   If you are having a medical emergency or concern please call your doctor or 911.  Do not let anything you read in this article replace the medical advice of a Doctor.**

That being said I felt called upon to help spread the word about Heart Attacks that Affect Women.   I often wonder if Carrie had any signs that maybe could have been caught and possibly saved her life.  If I can help even one woman realize that maybe she needs to be seen or change some habits, then I will have done my job.

So probably the first and biggest thing that women should understand about Heart Attacks is that they are a symptom of Heart Disease.  Believe it or not, Heart Disease is the Number 1 killer of women.   I looked at the CDC website (here) and going all the way back to 1998 on that site, it’ll tell you the percentages and what not and it’s consistently been Number 1 every year.  Crazy right?  You would think it wouldn’t be the number one killer.  But it is.  It’s also the number one killer for men as well.  Another note too:  It was the number one killer in Black women with White women close behind.

Why is this guys?

In 2013, heart disease killed 289,758 women compared to the 40,860 women and 464 men in the United States that died from breast cancer.  That’s 1 in every 4 women deaths.  Pretty scary!  Here’s another one….64% of women who die suddenly from coronary heart disease have NO PREVIOUS SYMPTOMS.   So even though they have no symptoms, this shows us that you could be at a risk!  It is also important to mention that Heart Disease symptoms aren’t just Heart Attacks, but also Heart Failure, Stroke and Arrhythmia.  But for the sake of this article we are going to focus on the Heart Attacks.

When a woman has a heart attack, it is crucial to remember that most of the time, it presents differently than when a man has one.  So here are the signs in a woman:

1.  Chest Pain or Discomfort:

  • This will feel something like an elephant sitting on your chest or a tight squeezing or pressure.
  • Very uncomfortable
  • Not necessarily on just the left side like a man but anywhere in the chest.

2.  Stomach Pain

  • This can be presented in the form of heartburn or nausea that just won’t go away no matter what you do.
  • Can look like the flu or a stomach ulcer so many people pay it no mind which is not the right move.
  • Elephant on your stomach
  • Vomiting

3.  Pain in 1 or Both arms, Neck, or Jaw

  • These tend to confuse women the most due to not being classic signs but they occur more in women.
  • May come and go
  • May be sudden or gradual
  • May wake you up if you are sleeping
  • Jaw pain will be most likely on lower left side of jaw

4.  Shortness of Breath, being lightheaded and/or nausea

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  • trouble breathing for no reason paired with another reason. If you are sitting in a chair and you’re out of breath like you just ran around….something may be wrong.

5.  Sweating

  • Cold, nervous sweat versus being out in the heat and sweating
  • Get it checked out especially if itis for no reason.

6.  Fainting

7.   Fatigue

  • Feeling like you have the worst flu.
  • Even if you’ve been sitting a while and not moving.
  • Can’t do a simple thing like get a glass of water

 

 

**It is also important to mention that people with Diabetes are at a higher risk for Silent Heart Attacks so make sure to talk to your doctor about this if you have Diabetes.

So why are so many women missing these symptoms?  I’ll tell you because even I’ve done it.  We don’t want to be a burden.  We are too busy doing other things.  We don’t have time to die today because we are busy putting our family first.

Let me tell you ladies something.   If our job of taking care of the family is so important, isn’t it important to take care of our bodies?  Isn’t it important to get those yearly check ups?  Yes.  Plain and Simple.  But you have a game to go to? How about the next ten years of games….those are important as well right?

If you notice you or a friend is having any of these issues, DO NOT wait it out. It’s better to go to the ER and be told it’s a panic attack than the real thing (been there and done that! Twice!).  Any ER doctor or regular doctor will tell you that.  I’ve been told, I’d rather you come in and just have us tell you you are ok than have it be the one wrong time you stay home.  So GO.

Call an ambulance.   Do not drive yourself!  You could pass out and crash and cause an accident.  Do not wait on family or a friend to drive you.  There is something called the Door to Balloon time which is the time the heart attack starts and the time they get you into surgery to fix any damage (usually with a balloon type medical procedure).  I’ve read it’s about an hour.  Maybe two.    You do not have time to waste!! The clock is already ticking.  Another thing as well, while you’re having the attack, your heart muscle is dying due to the lack of oxygen.  The faster you get medications, the less damage your heart has to repair.  When there is a repair, there is scar tissue.  This scar tissue does not beat with the heart…which means you could have future heart attacks if the scarring is bad enough.  The ambulance is well worth it as they have meds to start you on to help thin your blood and minimize damage.  They can keep you alive until you get to the hospital.

Ok so you are young…What can you do now to decrease your chances? Good question!

  • Yearly check up.  Keep on top of this.  Get your heart looked out by a good cardiologist as well as go to the ob!! We as women neglect all of these.
  • Walk 30 mins a day. I need to do this.  But you need exercise.  Get up and walk during the commercials during your show.  Do something.
  • If you smoke…QUIT.  After a year of no smoking, did you know you decrease your risk of heart disease by 50%? Amazing right!  Also, Any recreational drugs if you or your loved one is partaking.   These aren’t good for you….Cocaine actually messes with your heart and raises the risk of Heart Attack so definitely get help if you are using these.
  • Diet.  A less fatty, more fruits and veggies diet.  The Mediterranean Diet is a prefect example of a heart loving diet.  People on this diet have a 70% longer life expectancy.  They lower the heart issues as well as some cancers!

 

All of the information I found at the below sites.  Please go read them if you want more information as they are SUPER helpful. PLEASE Go to the Dr.   Please encourage those other friends to go to the dr.  Say Hey….Go to the dr and then afterwards we can have coffee.  Make them look forward to the day they have to go and get that check up if it’s a chore.   Catch something now while it’s super early and that little itch won’t become a full blown body rash!!  Hugs and love to everyone!!

 

 

https://www.cdc.gov/women/lcod/index.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/statistics/index.htm

https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_women_heart.htm

http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/features/womens-heart-attack-symptoms

https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/WarningSignsofaHeartAttack/Heart-Attack-Symptoms-in-Women_UCM_436448_Article.jsp

 

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