Having a heart attack felt nothing like 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 when running up that killer Quadra Street hill with my running group. Heart disease kills six times more women than breast cancer each year (in fact, it kills more women than all forms of cancer combined). And since 1984, heart disease kills more women than men annually.
Women need to know all the potential symptoms of a heart attack – both typical and atypical – and seek 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: