Heart attack symptoms: what women expect vs. what we get

by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters

I wasn’t short of breath, or dripping with sweat. I had chest pain WITHOUT left shoulder/jaw/arm symptoms or any other signs of illness. I attributed my chest pain to stress.”

This recent Twitter comment from a nurse about her own heart attack raises an important concern:  have we done such a good job of warning women about freakishly weird non-chest pain heart attack symptoms that we no longer believe it’s really a heart attack unless we also have vague symptoms in a dozen other body parts?    .           . Continue reading “Heart attack symptoms: what women expect vs. what we get”

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

by Carolyn Thomas   ♥   @HeartSisters

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. Yet heart disease kills six times more women than breast cancer 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 – both typical and atypical. And by the way, I’ve stopped using the word “atypical to describe any non-chest pain symptom that women experience during a heart attack, because as paramedic and documentary filmmaker (“A Typical Heart“) Cristina D’Alessandro likes to say: 

“Why are our cardiac symptoms called ‘atypical’ when women are more than half the population?”

I asked some female survivors to share their very first symptoms. Their heart attack stories may surprise you:

Read their stories