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Good morning! Just a reminder: Valentine’s Day is next week, so if you’re having flowers delivered, you should call today! (I’ll take a nice cabernet and some dark chocolate, please. Both are good for the heart in moderation.)
February is Women’s Heart Health Month, so it’s a wonderful time to review possible symptoms of a heart attack for men and women.
Most don’t realize women’s signs of a heart attack are very different from those of men, who usually suffer pressing chest pain, sweating and nausea.
Signs of a heart attack for a woman can be disguised as other illnesses such as a sore throat or the flu, which is an additional issue, because women rarely seek medical attention for themselves, prefer to wait it out, or diagnose and treat themselves with over the counter medication.
“Women are less likely than men to have the typical ‘Hollywood heart attack,’” said Sharonne Hayes, M.D., cardiologist and
director of the Mayo Clinic’s Women’s Heart Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
This issue is very disconcerting because “women don’t call 9-1-1 for themselves.” Bottom line, patients could very well die on the couch at home, which many women do because they were unaware they were having a heart attack.
If you’re older than 50, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, are a smoker or have a family history of heart disease, you should pay attention to the following signs.
Chest pain may feel like heavy pressure, but sometimes it comes as interspersing squeezes that come and go, or you may just have an uncomfortable feeling. If the chest pain lasts more than five minutes, call 9-1-1. Shortness of breath may occur before the chest pain and feels as though you can’t catch your breath even while resting. Dizziness or lightheadedness make you feel as though you will pass out and cold sweats are when you are cold but you’re sweating.
Symptoms more likely in women are as follows: pain in the arm (especially left arm), back, neck, abdomen or shoulder blades; the pain is often described as an uncomfortable pressure, tightness or ache.
“If you can put a finger on it and say, ‘It hurts right here,’ that’s much less likely to be a heart attack,” said Pamela Ouyang, a cardiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
Jaw pain: The feeling starts in the chest and moves to the throat, as though you’re being choked, then on to the jaw. But again, it’s not always obvious. Sometimes people “go to the dentist, thinking it’s a toothache,” when they actually had a heart attack.
Nausea and vomiting: Women are more likely than men to have this symptom, and they may think they have the stomach flu rather than a heart attack.
Overwhelming and unusual fatigue: Fatigue is often disregarded as a heart attack sign, so take heed if you’re unusually exhausted.
No one will experience the same exact symptoms of a heart attack, so it’s best to have an annual check-up and talk to your doctor about any discomfort. Be informed and take care of yourself.
Cardiologist Gordon Tomaselli, and president-elect of the American Heart Association, said, “often after people have a heart attack, they realize in retrospect they had symptoms days or weeks earlier that they didn’t recognize — such as extreme fatigue or throat pain.”
Now, if you think you can’t perform CPR because you haven’t taken a class or your certification has lapsed, think again. You can save a life by learning the hands-only CPR. Visit www.naturecoastems.org for future classes, and remember: push hard, push fast.
Nature Coast EMS is proud to be part of your community, and we will be there whenever and wherever you need us. We can also help you keep your independence with a medical alert system. Call Nature Coast EMS On Call toll free at 855-435-8012 or you can call me at 352-249-4730 and I’ll send you more information.
As always, take care and stay well.
Katie Lucas is the public information officer at Nature Coast EMS. She can be reached at 352-249-4730 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Nature Coast EMS is an accredited, nonprofit established in 2000 to provide emergency medical services to Citrus County. Watch “Every Minute Counts” hosted by Mike Hall, CEO, Nature Coast EMS on WYKE TV at 8 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. Wednesdays. Nature Coast EMS does not call soliciting donations on behalf of paramedics and EMTs. The Citrus County Professional Paramedics and EMTs Local 365 is a union, and Nature Coast EMS team members do not benefit from any donation to this organization.