Until I had a heart attack, I didn’t know that one of the biggest risk factors for having a cardiac event like mine is having already had one. Heart disease, a chronic and progressive diagnosis, is the gift that just keeps on giving. And as I wrote here, one of the Big Lessons for me has been that, although my doctors can “squish blockages, burn rogue electrical circuits, and implant lifesaving devices” all they like, their heroic efforts do not address what originally caused this damage to my coronary arteries in the first place – likely decades before my heart attack struck. See also: The Cure Myth
In fact, one in four women who survive a first heart attack will die within the following year, most often of cardiac arrest or another heart attack, according to the National Institutes of Health. And women are twice as likely to have a second heart attack in the six years following the first compared to our male counterparts.
No wonder sobering stats like these can drive the freshly-diagnosed heart patient to an exhausting and fearful state of acute hypervigilance.
Continue reading “Hypervigilance: waiting for that second heart attack”