Let’s pretend that atypical heart attack symptoms don’t exist

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters  ♥  February 25, 2018

Two cardiology reports landed in my inbox on the same day this past week, inside the same issue of the same cardiology journal. The first was a Yale University study on how women, particularly women younger than age 55, fare worse after surviving a heart attack compared to male counterparts, partly because of a tendency to present with vague or atypical symptoms that can delay accurate diagnoses.(1) The second was about the future of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women® campaign.(2)* Both papers were published in the journal, Circulation.

The trouble was this: each report seemed to contradict the other. Continue reading “Let’s pretend that atypical heart attack symptoms don’t exist”

Women’s early warning signs of a heart attack

by Carolyn Thomas  ♥  @HeartSisters

When Dr. Jean McSweeney from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences interviewed hundreds of heart attack survivors, she discovered something surprising: 95 percent of the women she interviewed actually suspected something was very wrong in the months leading up to their attack.

But even these early warning prodromal symptoms didn’t necessarily send women rushing to the doctor, as reported in Dr. McSweeney’s study published in the cardiology journal, Circulation.(1)  And for those women who did seek help early, doctors often failed to identify their problems as being heart-related.  Continue reading “Women’s early warning signs of a heart attack”

How does it really feel to have a heart attack? Female survivors answer that question

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Having a heart attack felt nothing like how I thought it would feel.   For one thing, unlike sudden cardiac arrest, in which the heart stops beating and you stop breathing, during my heart attack (myocardial infarction), my heart continued beating, and I was walking, talking and conscious throughout despite horrific symptoms – so how could I possibly be having a heart attack?

Like most women, I’d never really thought about my heart – except maybe years ago when running up that killer Quadra Street hill with my running group. Yet we know that heart disease kills six times more women than breast cancer does each year (in fact, it kills more women than all forms of cancer combined).

Women need to know all the potential symptoms of a heart attack – and seek immediate medical help if these symptoms do hit.  So I asked some survivors to share their very first symptoms. Their heart attack stories may surprise you:
Continue reading “How does it really feel to have a heart attack? Female survivors answer that question”

When the woman who won’t call 911 is your mother

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

Cardiologists know that, when it comes to seeking emergency medical help while experiencing alarming cardiac symptoms, women can be surprisingly reluctant to call 911. As I’ve written about here, here and here, this is a puzzling phenomenon we call treatment-seeking delay behaviour. It turns out that some cardiologists have to worry not only about patients like this, but about their own mothers. Continue reading “When the woman who won’t call 911 is your mother”

85% of hospital admissions for chest pain are NOT heart attack

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

“I was asleep and my symptoms woke me up. I had several simultaneous symptoms, but the first one seemed to be central chest pain. It wasn’t sharp or crushing or burning, more like a dull pressure. The pain radiated down my left arm and up into my neck and jaw. I had cold sweats, and I felt nauseated.”

Laura Haywood-Cory, age 41, heart attack, six stents

Researchers tell us that most of us already know that chest pain like Laura’s could be a symptom of what doctors call Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI – or heart attack) or Acute Coronary Syndrome (any condition brought on by sudden reduced blood flow to the heart muscle).  So it may not surprise you to learn that chest pain is the main reason that over 6 million people rush to the Emergency Departments of North American hospitals each year. These visits also represent a whopping 25% of all hospital admissions – yet 85% of these admissions do NOT turn out to be heart-related at allContinue reading “85% of hospital admissions for chest pain are NOT heart attack”

Guess which woman in this photo is having a heart attack

This week: a terrific guest post by Linda Johns, librarian at Seattle Public Library by day and writer of children’s books (including the Hannah West mystery series) before and after work. Originally published on June 4, 2016 on Linda’s self-titled blog.

I am having a heart attack in this photo. But look at who I'm surrounded by -- friends and writers. Love these women! Kirsten Kittscher, Kiry Larson, Suzanne Selfors, Sara Nickerson, Jennifer Longo.

Can you tell which author in this group photo* taken at a Seattle book event was experiencing heart attack symptoms while this photo was being taken? Me neither. Read on to solve the mystery as told by Linda Johns – which reminds us that heart disease can strike any of us at any time, an equal-opportunity medical crisis. 

  ♥  ♥  ♥ Continue reading “Guess which woman in this photo is having a heart attack”