Oct 12, 2011

Women and Heart Disease

Tomorrow I am going for an Echo-cardiogram...a painless test to take a basic look at my heart, because of some symptoms I've been having. They could simply be stress (we've had loads of that lately) or an intestinal/digestive thing, but my doctor seems to have the insight to realize that a woman's heart attack symptoms are not the same as a mans...and yes, I've had some of them.

My BP has been high, my blood test was normal, my EKG was good except for my irregular beats that I've always had when under stress. So what are the symptoms a woman might experience? Even before a heart attack, if you are experiencing shortness of breath or more than usual fatigue, these could be a sign that something is brewing. During a heart attack you may experience any one or more of the following:
  • Pain/pressure in the upper chest
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Pain in the back, neck, jaw
  • Discomfort in the lower abdomen that may be confused with stomach problems
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweats
  • Confusion
  • (Do a search online for "women's heart attack symptoms" for more)
The first symptom, pressure and pain in the chest, is the one that women are less likely to experience...but they sometimes do.

Some information that I've read says that if you think you are having symptoms like this and go to the emergency room, tell them that you think you are having a heart attack, especially if chest pain is not present, because if you just tell your symptoms and they do not include the chest pain, you are less likely to checked for heart disease or heart attack.

In fact, when you make your 911 call, which you should do if symptoms persist for no more than 5 minutes or so, tell them you think it's a heart attack so they'll get a paramedic to you and get you right into the hospital. It's better to be safe than sorry...embarrassed by it not really being heart disease than having a heart attack down the road with much more serious consequences.  I'll let you know what happens...I'm pretty sure I'll be okay, but you just never know.