Women & Heart Attacks

CA KateApril 22, 2007

I thought this FWD was important enough to share:

I looked it up on snopes TRUE


I'm forwarding this out....it's not my story

Subject: OK ladies...read and remember that we are NOT men; symptoms will be different


And guys...keep an eye on that lady in your life! My doc in Omaha

used to tell me that the conventional "stress" test was ineffective for women because it is calibrated for men...this lends credence to that.

I was aware that female heart attacks are different, but this is the best description I've ever read. You all take care out there! Women and heart attacks (Myocardial infarction)

Did you know that women rarely have the same dramatic symptoms that men have when experiencing heart attack...you know, the sudden stabbing pain in the chest, the cold sweat, grabbing the chest & dropping to the floor that we see in the movies. Here is the story of one woman's experience with a heart attack.

"I had a completely unexpected heart attack at about 10:30 PM with

NO prior exertion, NO prior emotional trauma that one would suspect

might've brought it on. I was sitting all snugly & warm on a cold evening, with my purring cat in my lap, reading an interesting story my friend had sent me, and actually thinking, "A-A-h, this is the life, all cozy and warm in my soft, cushy Lazy Boy with my feet propped up." A

moment later, I felt that awful sensation of indigestion, when you've been in a hurry and grabbed a bite of sandwich and washed it down with a dash of water, and that hurried bite seems to feel like you've swallowed a golf ball going down the esophagus in slow motion and it

is most uncomfortable. You realize you shouldn't have gulped it down so fast and needed to chew it more thoroughly and this time drink a glass of water to hasten its progress down to the stomach. This was my initial sensation---the only trouble was that I hadn't taken a bite

of anything since about 5:00 p.m.

"After that had seemed to subside, the next sensation was like

little squeezing motions that seemed to be racing up my SPINE (hind-sight,

it was probably my aorta in spasm), gaining speed as they continued

racing up and under my sternum (breast bone, where one presses rhythmically when administering CPR). This fascinating process continued on into my throat and branched out into both jaws.

"AHA!! NOW I stopped puzzling about what was happening--we all have

read and/or heard about pain in the jaws being one of the signals of

an MI happening, haven't we? I said aloud to myself and the cat, "Dear

God, I think I'm having a heart attack !" I lowered the foot rest, dumping the cat from my lap, started to take a step and fell on the floor instead. I thought to myself "If this is a heart attack, I

shouldn't be walking into the next room where the phone is or anywhere else.......but, on the other hand, if I don't, nobody will know that I need help, and if I wait any longer I may not be able to get up in moment."

"I pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked slowly into

the next room and dialed the Paramedics... I told her I thought I was

having a heart attack due to the pressure building under the sternum

and radiating into my jaws. I didn't feel hysterical or afraid, just

stating the facts. She said she was sending the Paramedics over

immediately, asked if the front door was near to me, and if so, to unbolt

the door and then lie down on the floor where they could see

me when they came in.

"I then laid down on the floor as instructed and lost consciousness,

as I don't remember the medics coming in, their examination, lifting me

onto a gurney or getting me into their ambulance, or hearing the call

they made to St. Jude ER on the way, but I did briefly awaken when we

arrived and saw that the Cardiologist was already there in his

surgical blues and cap, helping the medics pull my stretcher out of the

ambulance. He was bending over me asking questions (probably

something like "Have you taken any medications?") but I couldn't make my mind

interpret what he was saying, or form an answer, and nodded off again,

not waking up until the Cardiologist and partner had already

threaded the teeny angiogram balloon up my femoral artery into the aorta and

into my heart where they installed 2 side by side stents to hold open

my right coronary artery.

"I know it sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have

taken at least 20-30 minutes before calling the Paramedics, but

actually it took perhaps 4-5 minutes before the call, and both the

fire station and St. Jude are only minutes away from my home, and my

Cardiologist was already to go to the OR in his scrubs and get going

on restarting my heart (which had stopped somewhere between my arrival

and the procedure) and installing the stents.

"Why have I written all of this to you with so much detail? Because

I want all of you who are so important in my life to know what I

learned first hand."

  1. Be aware that something very different is happening in your body

not the usual men's symptoms, but inexplicable things happening (until my

sternum and jaws got into the act ). It is said that many more women

than men die of their first (and last) MI because they didn't know

they were having one, and commonly mistake it as indigestion, take some

Maalox or other anti-heartburn preparation, and go to bed, hoping

they'll feel better in the morning when they wake up....which doesn't

happen. My female friends, your symptoms might not be exactly like

mine, so I advise you to call the Paramedics if ANYTHING is

unpleasantly happening that you've not felt before. It is better to

have a "false alarm" visitation than to risk your life guessing what

it might be!

  1. Note that I said "Call the Paramedics". Ladies, TIME IS OF THE

ESSENCE! Do NOT try to drive yourself to the ER--you're a hazard to

others on the road, and so is your panicked husband who will be

speeding and looking anxiously at what's happening with you instead

of the road. Do NOT call your doctor--he doesn't know where you live and

if it's at night you won't reach him anyway, and if it's daytime, his

assistants (or answering service) will tell you to call the

Paramedics. He doesn't carry the equipment in his car that you need to be saved!

The Paramedics do, principally OXYGEN that you need ASAP. Your Dr. will be notified later.

  1. Don't assume it couldn't be a heart attack because you have a

normal cholesterol count. Research has discovered that a cholesterol

elevated reading is rarely the cause of an MI (unless it's

unbelievably high, and/or accompanied by high blood pressure.) MI's are usually

caused by long-term stress and inflammation in the body, which dumps

all sorts of deadly hormones into your system to sludge things up in

there. Pain in the jaw can wake you from a sound sleep. Let's be

careful and be aware. The more we know, the better chance we could


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calpat(zone9ab No.Ca.)

Westelle, thank you so much for this article. I'm one of the many ignorant ladies that didn't know about the difference between men's heart problems and womens. And too, my M.D. has never mentioned these sypmtoms to me, I find that not only strange, but negligent on his part! I'm going to bring it to his attention! Thanks again. Pat
p.s. oh yes I'm one of very few who have actually"fired" their M.D.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2007 at 11:53PM
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Wow!! That is some very important information ALL women should know! Why are they not telling us?? Or more importantly, why isn't it common knowledge? Ridiculous.

One of my friends had a mild heart attack not too long ago. She told me that she woke up from a dead sleep (so to speak), and she couldn't catch her breath. She soon lost consciousness, but luckily, her hubby was home (very luckily, since he's a long-haul truck driver and is gone a LOT). She's fine now, thank God.

Another friend of mine also had a mild heart attack (uhhh, maybe I need to find new friends?! LOL Just kidding!). She said her only symptom was dizziness, before finally losing consciousness. Luckily (again), she was on the phone with her sister, who promptly dialed 911. She's also fine now.

Stay safe, ladies!


    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 1:03PM
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No, I wasn't aware of this, thanks. I've always been convinced I'm going to have a stroke like my Mom and grandma because of the headaches and migraines like them and haven't really thought of heart attacks, though my Dad had one 10 years ago. Guess I need to focus on all symptoms. Don't understand about the jaws part, I'll have to go look this up.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2007 at 2:33PM
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I haven't looked it up, but I'm thinking the jaws would hurt because the main blood vessels travel quite near them (like where the doc feels for swollen areas on your neck under your chin).


    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 9:54AM
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