I’ve been thinking a lot about matters of the heart lately. A few weeks ago, my Dad had his third heart attack. I’m not sure how many of those a person can keep having and be ok? It scares us all. He has a lot of genetics against him. His younger brother died instantly from a massive heart attack at the age of 50. His parents both had troubles with their hearts and/or blood pressure. Since he doesn’t have great genetics for the heart, that means I don’t either. I’ve also got that dreaded apple body shape going that makes the fat I have much more dangerous. All of that means that I need to be smart, eat better, and exercise more. Of course, that is all easier said than done.
The more I learn about the heart, the more I realize how many people (even women) are at risk. I’ve had this nagging feeling that I should share some of this here on my blog in hopes of educating someone who might not otherwise know the warning signs. The reason my Dad is still here and doing pretty good is totally because my Mom understood the warning signs of a heart attack each time and insisted that he went to the hospital.
Common symptoms of a heart attack shared by both genders include: (from Dr. Weil’s website)
- Chest discomfort
- Arm discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Sweating and clammy skin
- Stomach pain and feelings of indigestion
Additionally, women are more likely than men to experience unusual fatigue, sleep disturbances and anxiety, as well as throat, jaw and neck discomfort during a heart attack. Don't let your gender influence your response to heart concerns. If you experience these symptoms and feel you might be having a heart attack, don't delay dialing 911 - the most effective window for treatment occurs during the first 60 minutes of symptoms.
A few more resources to check out:
- American Heart Association symptoms of a heart attack
- WebMD heart disease guide
- Mayo Clinic heart healthy diet
- NY Times article on stress and the relationship to heart attacks
Besides being scary in the best circumstances or fatal in the worst, heart attacks hurt (a lot) and have many ramifications and side effects. After witnessing what my Dad has gone through, I know I don’t want to ever experience any of it. I also realize how important it is to know the warning signs so I could get help for myself or someone else if a heart attack ever occurs. Even if you don’t feel like you are at risk, chances are that someone in your life is or will be at some time. Learn the signs and have a plan to get help if needed.
Just a little public service announcement today to lighten the weight in my own heart.