Saturday, July 30, 2011

Silent killer

      How many times have you been just wiped out during the day and just put it out of your mind thinking that you would just go to bed a little earlier that night and you would be fine?  How often do you get odd chest pains that you attribute to indigestion?  What about anxiety for no apparent reason?  If you are a woman, you should be paying very close attention to those symptoms.  You could be experiencing symptoms leading up to a heart attack.
      Did you know that one out of every three women die of heart disease and that it is the #1 killer of women in the United States?  I have read those figures before in disbelief.  How could that be?  Why is it that so many women don't notice the signs or chalk them up to something else entirely?  The biggest problem is that we all have the classic symptoms of a heart attack drilled into our heads and don't know that it is often totally different for women.  Even doctors have missed these symptoms and sent women home from emergency rooms, only to have these same women return later that night...if they are lucky.  Unfortunately, having the warning signs go unnoticed or ignored is oftentimes fatal. 
     My best friend recently complained of unexplained fatigue, her walks were getting harder to do and not easier, dizziness, and shortness of breath.  She has a myriad of other health concerns so she was on her way to the hospital anyway, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking she was passing another blood clot and I was beside myself with worry.  Well, over TWELVE HOURS later we finally get some answers:  heart attack caused by the blood clots they were trying to prevent. 
      She was in disbelief.  She thought she would know when she was having a heart attack and she didn't think she had any of the symptoms.  She didn't have that squeezing chest pain or pressure or the pain that spread to her left arm.  She did have the symptoms most common for women:  dizziness and the unexplained weakness and fatigue.  Other symptoms include indigestion or gas-like pain, discomfort between the shoulder blades, recurring chest discomfort and a sense of impending doom.
      Lucky for my friend, her doctors paid close attention to her symptoms and are watching her like a hawk, running all sorts of tests, and hopefully getting her out of that hospital and home to be with her family soon.  Lucky for me too.  Now that we know first hand what to watch for, there is no way we will miss any of the warning signs ever again.  In two weeks we will be flying home to Michigan to visit friends and family that we have not seen in years.  It wouldn't be a homecoming without having my Bestie there with me and I thank the gods that she got to the hospital in time.

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