Female heart attacks

Read one woman’s firsthand experience as she details her heart attack.

Female heart attacks

An email detailing a woman’s heart attack has been circulating recently and, although we don’t know who the author is, we thought it was worth sharing with you, as personal accounts can often be easier to remember than a list of symptoms. Women usually experience different heart attack symptoms to men. They are less likely to have chest pain, and more likely to experience nausea.

If you think you may be having a heart attack it is important you call an ambulance on 000 as quickly as possible. Do not research your heart attack, do not wait for the symptoms to subside and, most importantly, do not drive yourself to the hospital. Getting help quickly is the best way to increase your chances of making a full recovery, and it is much better to call an ambulance on a false alarm than to risk ignoring a life-threatening heart attack.

This is one woman’s account of her heart attack, edited to include Australian terminology.

I had a heart attack at about 10.30pm with no prior exertion, or emotional trauma that one would suspect might have brought it on. I was sitting all snugly and warm on a cold evening, with my purring cat in my lap, reading an interesting story my friend had sent me, and actually thinking, 'A-A-h, this is the life, all cosy and warm in my soft, cushy recliner with my feet propped up.’

A moment later, I felt that awful sensation of indigestion, when you've been in a hurry and grabbed a bite of sandwich and washed it down with a dash of water. That hurried bite seems to feel like you've swallowed a golf ball which goes down the oesophagus in slow motion and it is most uncomfortable. You realize you shouldn't have gulped it down so fast and needed to chew it more thoroughly and this time drink a glass of water to hasten its progress down to the stomach. This was my initial sensation. The only trouble was that I hadn't taken a bite of anything since about 5pm.

After it seemed to subside, the next sensation was like little squeezing motions that seemed to be racing up my spine (hindsight, it was probably my aorta spasming), gaining speed as they continued racing up and under my sternum (breast bone, where one presses rhythmically when administering CPR).

This fascinating process continued on into my throat and branched out into my jaw on both sides. Now I stopped puzzling about what was happening – we have all read or heard about pain in the jaw being one of the signals of a heart attack happening, haven't we? I said aloud to myself and the cat, ‘Dear God, I think I'm having a heart attack!’

I lowered the footrest, dumped the cat from my lap, started to take a step and fell on the floor instead. I thought to myself, ‘If this is a heart attack, I shouldn't be walking into the next room where the phone is or anywhere else. But, on the other hand, if I don't, nobody will know that I need help, and if I wait any longer I may not be able to get up.’

I pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked slowly into the next room and dialled the paramedics. I told the operator I thought I was having a heart attack due to the pressure building under the sternum and radiating into my jaw. I didn't feel hysterical or afraid, just stating the facts. She said she was sending the paramedics over immediately, asked if the front door was near to me, and if so, to unbolt the door and then lie down on the floor where they could see me when they came in. 

I ended up having two stents installed in my coronary artery, and I am making a full recovery.

I know it sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have taken at least 20-30 minutes before calling the paramedics, but actually it took perhaps four to five minutes before the call. Why have I written all of this to you with so much detail? Because I want all of you who are so important in my life to know what I learned firsthand. 

Whether this is a real account, or simply a piece written by a health professional, it has some important lessons which are worth taking in. Were you aware that female heart attacks could have different symptoms to male heart attacks? Do you think you would recognise a heart attack if you were having one?





    COMMENTS

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    Pass the Ductape
    27th Sep 2013
    12:21pm
    Recognising what is, and what is not a heart attack, is a real problem.

    From what I've deduced, there doesn't seem to be much real coloration between one person's symptoms and another - except for perhaps a 'pain in the chest', which is something most of us can suffer from in one degree or another - depending upon what we get up to throughout the day.

    I raced off to the doctor on one occasion because of the severe 'pain in the chest symptoms' thinking I was having a heart attack and was told I'd only been a little too active in my work regime for that day and had simply strained the muscles in my chest! Now I'm left wondering what I should do the next time I get a chest pain...

    Having heard the stories and spoken to many others about the symptoms concerning their own heart attack, I've learnt only one thing - everyone's experience seem to differ considerably; no wonder there is so much confusion as to whether one is having a heart attack or not!

    If we all followed the advice of the establishment and medical professionals, most of us would be camping on the doctor's doorstep every day of our lives, thinking we could be suffering from a heart condition when all we've done is strained something during the normal course of our daily routine, or displaying normal symptoms from indigestion, sore arm, or sore jaw (I did have cramp in my jaw a couple of times which could easily have contributed to the idea that I might have been having heart problems).

    It's no wonder many of us don't recognise a real heart attack until it's too late!
    Nan Norma
    27th Sep 2013
    3:58pm
    Ducetape, You are so right. It is the same problem with angina. The symptoms are just the same as an heart attack. Stress can cause tightness in the chest too. As you say, if we all called an ambulance every time we had a symptoms of a heart attack the hospital would be overrun.
    Pass the Ductape
    27th Sep 2013
    4:29pm
    Thanks Nan Norma...I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking this.

    It's a bit disconcerting when the best advice you can get is - " Oh, you'll know the difference when it's a real heart attack!" Nice to know?.........I don't think so!
    Angel
    27th Sep 2013
    10:26pm
    Two years ago, I was relaxing playing games on my computer when I suddenly experienced severe chest pains and I started perspiring profusely no matter what position I placed myself in the pain only got worse so I rang an ambulance they said I had all the signs of a heart attack but when I arrived at the hospital all the tests showed negative for heart problems, they checked liver, gall, kidneys etc I had a multitude of tests but nothing showed up, about 1 year later the same thing happened only this time more severe and included vomiting, the same result, we were all in a quandary, my doctor said maybe have an endoscopy and upon waking after the procedure the specialist said "we found a very large tumour in your duodenum" I was in shock, well after lots and lots of scans and biopsies it was benign but inoperable due to being involved with the pancreas, gall and too deeply embedded in muscle tissue, I will have to be monitored for the rest of my life to make sure it remains NICE lol but my message is that when in doubt it's best to get to hospital, I would still have phoned an ambulance in hindsight as you never know, best to be sure.
    Nan Norma
    28th Sep 2013
    9:19am
    Angel, If I had severe pain as you describe I would certainly call an ambulance.
    HOLA
    28th Sep 2013
    6:13pm
    I can only relate to my problem of unsuspecting heart disease. It happened a couple of times, sweating in the middle of the night and feeling nauseous and sometimes vomiting. I put this down to something I had eaten. This went on for a couple of years and I didn't take much notice of it. I had high blood pressure and cholesterol and was taking tablets for it. I was a good walker, every day, and managed to lose 30 kilos. I never had chest pains or breathlessness or aches in the jaw or arms. But I was Type 11 Diabetic and was on tablets 2 per day. The Doctor said Diabetes can cause heart disease. I had an Angiogram and they found I had 3 arteries 70% blocked, so I had a Triple By-Pass and was out of hospital within 6 days. So far everything is great. Watch my diet and exercise every day.
    Nan Norma
    28th Sep 2013
    6:33pm
    HOLA, As Ductape said, everybody is different that's what makes it so hard.
    Sally-Jane
    28th Sep 2013
    9:10pm
    My hubby had a 95% and a 70% blockages and had 2 stents. He also had mycro cardiovascular disease, which is the small vessels and capilleries blocking which there is no real treatment as they are too small. When he was told there was nothing more medically or surgical could be done for him, I started looking into natural remidies. Fortunatly we had a friend who collected a wad of natural remedies for all sorts of ailments over many years and there was one for cleaning the arteries, which worked like magic. The specialist couldn't believe it when hubby went for the next checkup, he was out of his wheelchair (which he had to use because he couldn't walk very far without running into trubble) and walked into his rooms like a new man. When we told him what we had done he was amazed and now tells other patients about it too and so does his GP. All you need is 5 lemons and 30 cloves of garlic (australian if you can get it) chopped tiny in a processor. Add pulp and 1 lit of water in a saucepan and bring slowly to boiling point stiring occasionally, then strain and store in a glass bottle in the fridge. Take a 30ml medicine glass once a day with your main meal. Take for 3 weeks and then take an 8 day break followed be another 3 weeks. You only need to do this once a year to keep the arteries clean. Good luck and healthy living.
    HOLA
    29th Sep 2013
    1:14am
    Sally-Jane, I have heard of this formula before. Anything is worth a try if you want to keep healthy. Another one is eating Lecithin,this also helps to clean out the arteries. That reminds me, must get a new supply tomorrow. Don't forget it must be kept in the fridge to keep it fresh.
    Young Simmo
    29th Sep 2013
    12:13am
    OK, I will put my 2 Bobs worth in as well, just in case it might give somebody a clue, and save their life. If not, I am sorry for boring you.
    To start with, my Father died of a Heart Attack on his 43rd birthday in 1953. So my family history was not good and I thought all through my teens, 20s and 30s I would be dead before the age of 50.
    Being a smoker from age 14, I stopped at age 60, then I was working on a Salt Mine north of Carnarvon and suffering continuous Angina. Using a Puffer, and not able to walk 50 metres to catch the bus to work was a real hassel. Feb 1962 I had a triple Bypass, and amongst many other things was told I had had many, many Heart Attacks. So regardless of everything you may hear, get pains in the chest and left arm checked out immediately. I have lived 30 years longer than my Father and am still going because I thumped my fist on my Doctor's desk. The only thing about being 73 instead of 53 is, I am much more Cheeky, Offensive, Annoying and Confident. Yeehhaaaaaaaaa.
    Interestingly 1953 was the year of the first Bypass Operation and carried out on a 13 year old girl. Nobody had invented a Heart Lung machine at that stage, and they had her Father on a bed beside her and hooked up so his body kept both of their systems going. (That is his Heart and Lungs kept both of their blood systems functioning while the Opp was performed) It's a great story if you want to GOOGLE it.
    HOLA
    29th Sep 2013
    1:26am
    Young Simmo, well you are living proof that we must insist that our doctors check out our symptoms more thoroughly. 2 years ago I had terrible stomach pains and went to the doctor. He said to take Buscupan and Panadol. Didn't even press the stomach area. After 2 days I rang the Hospital when vomiting turned dark brown, they said get to hospital immediately. Within 2 hours I was admitted to surgery. As it turned out I had a 4cm Gallstone lodged in the small bowel. I never went to that doctor again. He was so uncaring .
    Pass the Ductape
    29th Sep 2013
    11:20am
    Hi HOLA...You and Young Simmo might both be living proof of - "life's a bitch and then you die." Could have be worse though, you might have had Dr. Patel for a surgeon!
    Young Simmo
    29th Sep 2013
    12:45pm
    Yes HOLA, I went to a local GP earlier this year and said to him. I have been Flu free for the last 13 years because I have had the Flu needle every year, now I have suddenly got this severe dose. He said there are about 13 types of Flu and the needle only covers about 3 of them so there is nothing I can do. He didn't unfold his hands, didn't listen to my chest, didn't take my temp, didn't look at my throat. In fact he didn't even say thanks for the easy $70.
    Even if there was a monitoring service to keep Doctors honest, our unreal Judges and Magistrate would let them off.
    Pass the Ductape
    29th Sep 2013
    5:04pm
    Doctors are like so many others in certain professions Young Simmo -including those you mentioned. They're pretty good at protecting each other when one of them stuffs up.
    HOLA
    29th Sep 2013
    7:51pm
    Ductape - or even worse, Dr. Kervorkian, not sure of the spelling. ha ha.
    HOLA
    29th Sep 2013
    7:59pm
    YOUNG SIMMO -- I do feel sorry for you having to face such a heartless Doctor. It reminds me of the story of a retired ship's captain who visited a brothel, he said to the old prostitute, "How am I doing?" She said , " You're doing about three knots," "Three knots" said the captain, "Yeah, You're not hard, you're not in and your not getting a refund."
    Sally-Jane
    29th Sep 2013
    1:28pm
    unfortunately our doctors are only trained to treat symptoms instead of finding the cause of the symptom. They are also bugged by pharmiaceutical companies to prescribe their medicines without first checking the side effects is can cause. We will always need doctors, but at least a naturopath looks for the cause of the problems. For anyone interested in a cure for cancer, research maple syrup and bicarb soda on the net. I have known a few people who have cured themselves when the Dr. told them there was no hope. All to do with the body's PH levels, as cancer can't survive in an akaline body.
    Pass the Ductape
    29th Sep 2013
    5:08pm
    One wonders then why this 'cure' for cancer isn't as well known as it should be.

    First time I've ever heard it mentioned!
    Nan Norma
    29th Sep 2013
    5:21pm
    Too much money is lost if a real cure is found.
    Young Simmo
    29th Sep 2013
    5:34pm
    It seems fairly evident that Family History and Genes etc are the best indicator of Cancer at this stage. It might be a good idea if everybody started putting a family history re Illness and Disease together, and Doctors being forced to add to that information as it becomes available. Should not be too hard with todays Computers and the Internet etc. In 50 years all that info would be very valuable for everybody that comes after us. Let's face it, we can bet on Football and Horses, buy Blood pressure machines, vote and comment on the net, why not a personal record to help those we leave behind?
    Pass the Ductape
    29th Sep 2013
    5:36pm
    You know Nan Norma - I've wondered about this quite few times myself. When you consider the amount money that must have been obtained over the years for cancer research, through a myriad of different processes, the total amount of money collected must be absolutely staggering!
    It must run into the hundreds of billions. It really makes you wonder why we haven't progressed any further towards a total cure for cancer than we already have, not-with-standing the improvements in treatment we're continually told about.
    aquarius
    1st Oct 2013
    11:05am
    there is evidently a cure for cancer and other diseases. Research Medical Cannabis Oil. Mullaways Medical Cannabis has been producing it in Australia and giving it away free to patients in need. He has been stopped from doing this and his crops destroyed, Had a prison sentence, He is presently fighting for this to be legalised. Also google Rick Simpsons cure for cancer
    FrankC
    21st Jun 2014
    12:24pm
    I suggest you look at a product called Essiac (Google it.) Used by a nurse called Renee Caisse, (her name spelt backwards.) My sister in law used this when she had breast cancer many years ago, must be more than 18 years ago and is still with us. I had a PET scan and was told I had a cancer of the middle lobe of my right lung. I went on Essiac and a powerful antioxidant for 3 months. It disappeared. This product was monitored by the medical profession in Canada, where the nurse worked as she treated many patients with a variety of cancers; when it went to parliament it was knocked back by two people creating a majority vote against using it, yes they were in the pharmaceutical business, of course !! Money and profits is more important than saving lives when it comes to business.!!
    Nan Norma
    29th Sep 2013
    5:56pm
    Ductape, your right. The fortune raised for cancer research is probably more than any other illness. I believe new drugs are made to treat it, but not to cure it, not to wipe it out completely, especially as its not contagious. Drugs are big business. If a real cure came about tomorrow the stock market would slump. I'm not saying every disease is treated the same. But the big money makers are.
    I heard that our government stocked up really big on the bird flu vaccine and the drug company did very well. You know of course how wide spread that was in Australia.
    HOLA
    29th Sep 2013
    8:08pm
    The same as AIDS Research. Billions have been raised and still no cure. Every time Elton John does an AIDS benefit he raises millions for the cause. Where has all the money gone.
    Precious
    29th Sep 2013
    10:03pm
    Hi all, I had the same almost but without the squeezing sensation and also the racing heart beat...so I was in Hospital for a week and ended up with having shock treatment to get the heart back on track...The jaws pain is common and have had that without the full blown heart attack.......I went into Hospital down country too after terrible [pains in lower back and the Dr there thought I may have has some small strokes earlier......am OK now and very well as long as I don`t walk uphill or an incline.....
    Sally-Jane
    30th Sep 2013
    1:23am
    Check out this youtube report and you'll understand why there is no cure and never will be a medical cure for cancer. The pharmaceutical companys make far too much money from heart disease and cancer to ever allow a cure to be released. Very scary stuff. So we have to research and find our own cures if we hope to survive. Copy and paste into your browser. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7k-GlLhpp8
    aquarius
    2nd Oct 2013
    4:56pm
    That is so true GREED BY BIG PHARMA. The Greens were supposed to be on Mullaways side to push this forward but have not heard anything about this.
    aquarius
    2nd Oct 2013
    4:57pm
    There is also a video put out by Rick Simpson on the cannabis oil
    Bella54
    31st Oct 2013
    12:08pm
    This is excellent! My sister suffered a major heart attack 2 days ago, at 56 years of age. Fortunately, an ambulance was called immediately, and stent inserted at the hospital within 1 1/2 hours. She is now recovering in CCU. The paramedics and staff at SCGH were absolutely fantastic!!!
    Polly Esther
    20th Jun 2014
    4:25pm
    This is highly dangerous and in fact bordering on the height of complete stupidity, to document like this, one persons symptoms of a heart attack be it male or female, and particularly setting down their symptoms as being what to look out for. People who read this and who are sufferers of hypochondria for instance can be looking for these symptoms and in their minds suffer heart attacks or be looking for these symptoms and miss the symptoms of a real heart attack, and if this happens it can of course be too late. The point I'm getting at is that there are literally hundreds of symptoms of a heart attack and they are all insidiously different. Best advice is if you feel something out of the ordinary contact your doctor ASAP. Do not, I say again do not under any circumstances attempt to self diagnose. Confide in your doctor, listen to and take their advice and forget about the $7 per visit you may or probably more likely may not have to pay.
    I could tell you my story, it sounds like a Benny Hill skit, but it is certainly real. I won't of course tell you because it is my story, and I'd bet that most likely no one else could or would suffer the same symptoms. To reiterate every persons heart attack is unique and it's dangerous to use one persons documented heart attack symptoms as a manual.
    FrankC
    21st Jun 2014
    12:53pm
    The big problem of taking oestrogen for women is it increases the risk of ovarian, uterine and breast cancer, and if you have an ovarian cystadenoma, it could exacerbate it into becoming a cystadenocarcinoma, or cancer of the ovary.


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