Could Be a Problem
Warning signs that women should never ignore
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.