Sunday, March 25, 2012

Don't Miss A Beat

Article and photo submitted by Nadine Bray, Chairman of
The women's Issues Committee of the Brunswick Town
Chapter of the DAR.
Although women often think of heart attack as something that affects mainly men, heart disease is the number one killer of women.  Every 90 seconds, a woman in the United States has a heart attack.

 It’s important to know what the signs and symptoms look like – knowing how to spot them can be the difference between a loved one living and dying.

The most common signs of heart attack in both women and men are:

Unusually heavy pressure on the chest, like there’s a ton of weight on you.  Most heart attacks involve chest pain or discomfort in the center or left side of the chest.  It usually lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back.  It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain.  It may even feel like heartburn or indigestion.

 Sharp upper body pain in the neck, back and jaw.

This symptom can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or upper part of stomach (not below the belly button).  Pain in the back, neck or jaw is a more common heart attack symptom for women than it is for men.

Severe shortness of breath.

This symptom can come on suddenly.  It may occur while you are at rest or with minimal physical activity.  You may struggle to breathe or try taking deep breaths.  Shortness of breath may start before or at the same time as chest pain or discomfort, and can even be you only symptom.

Cold sweats, and you know it’s not menopause

sudden and unusual or unexplained fatigue (tiredness) is one of the most common symptoms of heart attack in women, and one of the easiest to ignore.  It can come on suddenly or be present for days.  More than half of women having a heart attack experience muscle tiredness or weakness that is not related to exercise.

 Unfamiliar dizziness or light-headedness.

Unlike in the movies, most heart attacks do not make you pass out right away; instead, you may suddenly feel dizzy or light-headed.

Unexplained nausea (feeling sick to the stomach) or vomiting.

Women are twice as likely as men to experience nausea, vomiting, or indigestion during their heart attack.  These feelings are often written off as having a less serious cause.  Remember, nausea and vomiting may be signs that something is seriously wrong, especially if you have other symptoms.

 Many women have symptoms like sweating, tiredness, and nausea sometimes.  The most important thing to remember is that NEW symptoms, or a change in the pattern of your existing symptoms, are cause for concern.  Call 9-1-1 right away if you have symptoms.

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