Could Be a Prob­lem

Warn­ing signs that women should never ig­nore

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Heart disease is the num­ber- one killer in the US and it is re­spon­si­ble for more deaths than all forms of can­cer com­bined. Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Heart As­so­ci­a­tion, a heart at­tack strikes some­one ev­ery thirty- four sec­onds. “Part of the dilemma is that the symp­toms of a heart at­tack are not al­ways ob­vi­ous, and they present dif­fer­ently in each gen­der as well as in each in­di­vid­ual,” says Je­sus Men­di­o­laza MD, FACC, of Lee Physi­cian Group and board cer­ti­fied in in­ter­nal medicine, nu­clear car­di­ol­ogy, and car­dio­vas­cu­lar disease.

Heart at­tacks take the lives of more women than men each year. “Symp­toms are typ­i­cally less ob­vi­ous in women and of­ten over­looked and mis­taken for other is­sues, such as heart­burn or a flu virus,” says Dr. Men­di­o­laza. “Some­times, women are sim­ply fright­ened, or too busy putting their loved ones ahead of them­selves. As a re­sult, they don’t seek proper med­i­cal at­ten­tion and are more likely to die when they suf­fer a heart at­tack.”

Learn­ing the early warn­ing save your life:

signs can PAINS. Chest pain, pres­sure, burn­ing, and dis­com­fort cen­tered un­der the breast­bone that pos­si­bly comes and goes, is a clas­sic symp­tom of a heart at­tack. Th­ese symp­toms are not al­ways ob­vi­ous in women. In­stead, they of­ten ex­pe­ri­ence aches or pains in the back, shoul­ders, arms, stom­ach, and some­times the jaw. SHORT­NESS OF BREATH. Many women feel as if they are panting, try­ing to take deep breaths and hav­ing a hard time. This can oc­cur days or weeks be­fore and dur­ing a heart at­tack. They feel as if they’ve done some­thing stren­u­ous and haven’t moved. NAU­SEA OR DIZZI­NESS. It’s fairly com­mon to vomit dur­ing a heart at­tack. Nau­sea or heart­burn ac­com­pa­nied by light­head­ed­ness, dizzi­ness, or faint­ing are signs of ab­nor­mal heart rhythms. Ar­rhyth­mias are se­ri­ous con­di­tions that re­quire im­me­di­ate med­i­cal at­ten­tion. HEAVY SWEAT­ING. If you find your­self pale and drenched in sweat for no rea­son, or feel­ing sweaty with cold, clammy skin, it could be warn­ing of a heart at­tack. UN­USUAL FA­TIGUE/ EX­TREME WEAK­NESS. Many women feel as if they lost their “get up and go” days or weeks be­fore or dur­ing an at­tack. It isn’t merely a sense of be­ing tired, but rather feel­ing se­verely weak to the point that you don’t think you can walk to the next room or do any nor­mal ac­tiv­ity. ANX­I­ETY. Feel­ing in­tense fear or a sense of im­pend­ing doom is a com­mon ex­pe­ri­ence re­called by many fe­male sur­vivors. Anx­i­ety may be your body’s way of alert­ing you that some­thing is very wrong. Go with your in­stincts; it can pos­si­bly save your life. RAPID OR IR­REG­U­LAR PULSE. A rapid or ir­reg­u­lar pulse ac­com­pa­nied by any of th­ese other symp­toms can be a strong in­di­ca­tor of a heart at­tack, ar­rhyth­mia, or heart fail­ure. Un­treated ar­rhyth­mias are deadly. SWELLING. Swelling, usu­ally in the ab­domen or lower ex­trem­i­ties, is the re­sult of flu­ids ac­cu­mu­lat­ing in the body dur­ing heart fail­ure. Swelling in the ab­domen will of­ten cause a loss of ap­petite. COUGH. When a per­son suf­fers from heart fail­ure, fluid can build up in the lungs and cause wheez­ing or a per­sis­tent cough. In some cases, the cough will pro­duce bloody phlegm. SLEEP­LESS­NESS. A lack of sleep is not a sure sign in it­self, but it is a com­mon oc­cur­rence and can be a sign of trou­ble when ac­com­pa­nied by th­ese other symp­toms.

“Liv­ing a healthy life­style can re­duce your risk of de­vel­op­ing heart disease,” ad­vises Dr. Men­di­o­laza. “Ex­er­cise reg­u­larly, thirty to sixty min­utes most days, and eat foods low in fat, choles­terol, and salt. Smok­ers should con­sider quit­ting since fe­male smok­ers are four times more likely to die from heart disease.”

It’s also im­por­tant to sched­ule check­ups and make sure that you are mon­i­tor­ing blood pres­sure, choles­terol, and blood su­gar lev­els dur­ing th­ese ex­ams. Tell your doc­tor if you are high risk or have a fam­ily his­tory of heart prob­lems.

For more in­for­ma­tion about Lee Me­mo­rial Health Sys­tem, visit online at leememo­rial. org.

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