Please read this. You may have received this earlier, but a refresher course doesn't hurt. Be aware, think and remain calm. Good info.
NURSE'S HEART ATTACK EXPERIENCE
I am an ER nurse and this is the best description of this event that I have ever heard.
Please read, pay attention, and send it on!
FEMALE HEART ATTACKS
I was aware that female heart attacks are different,
but this is the best description I've ever read.
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 heart attack at about 10 :30 PM with NO prior exertion, NO prior emotional trauma
that one would suspect might have 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 it 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 spasming), 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 in to 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 footrest 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
I unlocked the door and 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
'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!
2. Note that I said 'Call the Paramedics.' And if you can
take an aspirin. Ladies, TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE!
Do NOT try to drive yourself to the ER you are a hazard
to others on the road.
Do NOT have 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.
3. 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). MIs 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 survive.
A cardiologist says if everyone who gets this mail
sends it to 10 people, you can be sure that we'll save
at least one life.
Thank you so very much for sharing this with us.
Thanks for posting this.
Wow...thank you Laurel, you never know who may make it becoz of this post. I am always concerned for my sister who suffers from high BP...thank you
good info to know! thanks
Thank you so much for posting this! I am going to copy this and send it to all the women in my life.
The mother of one of my DH's employees just passed away of a heart attack...she had been feeling chest pains for 3 days and didn't think anything of it and she died when she finally went to the hospital....She was 42
And my cousin recently passed away because of a heart attack she had been feeling the same pains but she thought it was because she had eaten some chilli...she was coming from her son's school when she said she couldn't breathe and before she made it to the fire station which was less than a block away she had slumped over in the front seat and died right in front of the little boy...
Kiddiekakes, thank you for sharing this story because now I'm more aware of what the signs are...I will pass this on to every woman I know!!
Thank you so much Laurel for posting this.
Some of the signs you noted, I have heard, some I haven't.
You opened my eyes, and now I will be much more aware of those little twinges.
I am glad to hear that you are doing well now, and wish you good health.
Something similar happened to my mom this past spring. She's had back problems for years, and one Saturday night it happened, and she was making all sorts of weird phone calls to people. She called me, and I just assumed she was drunk, since she has an alcohol problem. Several days later, when she couldn't stop shaking and went to a Dr. to see if it might be Parkinson's, they found out she had had a heart attack.
Thanks for posting.