On the morning radio show I heard a college professor, about my age, describe her heart attack almost a year ago. She was a professor of dance, she had no history of health problems, no risk factors and no heart disease in her family. Yet she had a heart attack. She did not have any of the signs you generally think of when you think about heart disease. Instead she felt sick to her stomach, she had severe pain in the middle of her back and her arms were weak, like noodles. That's it. No chest pain, no shortness of breath, no pain in one arm.
You may think it can't happen to you, but you would be wrong. My old friend Milindoe found out she had a mild heart attack years ago, and she never even knew:
About 6 or 7 years ago, I had an ecocardiogram (ECG) done and it was found that, at some point in my life, I'd had some sort of cardiac "episode" that caused some slight scarring around the heart. A mild heart attack, and I never knew it. Scary, isn't it?
Laura's life has been touched by this, too.
Last night, he told me a dear friend (and his boss) was going to have heart bypass surgery today. She is in her early 50s. Cathy and her husband, Joe, are very dear to us. Their office is a lot like family so Bill and the rest of the staff are understandably worried. I sat with Joe and his kids this morning in the hospital as Cathy underwent quadruple bypass surgery.
When my mother had her heart attack, she didn't even recognize that that was what it was, because the symptoms didn't fit the "classic" model - shooting pains in the left arm and whatnot - which is derived from studies of men.
As a result, she didn't seek medical help for three days, because she thought she just had the flu. She'd probably be alive today if she knew what the common symptoms in women were.
On February 3, 2006 people all over the country will be dressed in red to support the campaign to reduce the risk of heart disease in women. (I'm thinking about turning my blog template red, care to join me for the day?)
Join the Go Red For Women campaign. Spread the word, spread the education.