There’s more information about women and heart disease, heart attacks and how to protect yourself. Until recently there was very little information given about the difference between male and female heart, the symptoms between genders and what to do for protection. It’s a great thing. Getting the word out that men are no longer the #1 in heart attacks, women are…beating out all the cancers combined.
Heart attacks come in many forms with different symptoms. In order to make it easier to understand, many women’s groups are calling out typical symptoms for women vs symptoms for men. I think that is really a dangerous assumption to put out into the world.
We definately need to push back on the image that Hollywood has with male heart attacks–you’ve seen them. Man grabs his chest and falls to the ground. Great for acting, not so much for educating. And that’s ok. Hollywood isn’t where we need to get our information from.
While I hate admitting that I’ve had two heart attacks (see, the shame we tap into as women is pretty powerful) and both were very different.
- The first was like indigestion that increased over a few hours. As time went on my left arm was hurting and I was feeling dizzy. In spite of that I drove myself home in rush hour traffic. My bowels emptied out while driving and I STILL drove home and took a shower. Then the elephant sat on my chest. Finally, I was whisked off to the hospital. I channeled Mel Brooks the whole time. It was pretty easy as heart attacks go.
- The 2nd heart attack was the “widowmaker”. A stab in my chest and between my shoulder blades. This is where the Hollywood image paid off. I knew time was short so I dialed 911, put on a fleece, wallet in pocket, walked to open the front door while I was speaking to 911 and then BAM. I was out on the floor vomiting. I don’t recall much of that night.
It’s important to not assess your symptoms as male or female, but respond quickly to how you are feeling. Don’t wait. There’s no doubt in my mind I would have died with the 2nd heart attack had I not acted immediately. I probably let the first heart attack timeline go too long. Thankfully I didn’t have heart damage with that one.
Regardless of how quickly I reacted with the 2nd heart attack, I have damage. And I feel cheated out of many things. Young enough to hike and be active, but for now, I can’t handle much and sound like a very old and ill person just on walks.
You don’t want this to happen to you. Change your life. Get rid of smoking, sugars, animal products. Eat more veggies and fruit. It’s a start.