My family had a scare this week. My sister recently had breast reconstruction surgery from breast cancer. After the surgery she was instructed to wear a compression bra for 3 weeks, only taking it off to shower. It was uncomfortable and perhaps a little tight. She thought the bra and surgical site were causing her discomfort. She didn’t think it was a heart attack. She said the pain was strong but thought it was related to her recent surgery. When she called the surgeon’s office, they asked if someone could take her to the ER, she said yes and then drove herself to the ER.
Many women have symptoms of a heart attack and/or a stroke and don’t recognize them. Don’t be one of the statistics that misinterpret your symptoms. According to the American Heart Association, the symptoms a woman experiences may be very different from the ones that a man experiences.
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light headedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.
What is the take-a-way from my sister’s experience? If you have symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. Go to the nearest ER room and get checked out. My sister isn’t the only one to miss symptoms, read this blog posted on the American Heart Association about a 38 year old woman who had a stroke and didn’t know it! Don’t become a statistic because you are afraid to inconvenience your family or doctor.
Source: American Heart Association, http://www.heart.org
Photo credit: Nancy Harris
Author: Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, email@example.com