ladies, listen to your heart ….

My grandmother, her two sisters and their mother all died of massive coronaries, some before the age of 50, so this post is personal.

I am not a fan of forwarded emails, and I don’t know the name of the original author of this one, but I couldn’t help but want to pass this information on to every woman I can reach with this blog.   Tell your friends.

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 spasms), 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 a
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  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 radiologist 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 stints 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
1.  Be aware that something very different is happening in your body, not
the usual mens 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).  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 survive.

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