Sep. 24, 2019

PSA: Public Service Announcement


“Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.” Psalm 111:1a

I’ve been in some type of medical education for most of my working career. At first, I was a Certified Prenatal and Early Parenting Educator. Then, I moved to mental health administration for 15 years. I’ve written grants for breast cancer research. I was blessed to spend a year working on a contract basis for a company that provides health education to senior adults.

With these jobs came continuing education opportunities. I think we often assume that just because we learn something, everyone knows the same thing. As I age, I realize that is a false assumption.

I’ve had numerous conversations over the past month regarding women and heart attacks. Not a great subject, huh? One of my female neighbors experienced shoulder discomfort. It grew severe enough that her husband put her in the car to take her to the doctor. She slumped over into his lap at the corner of Beltway 8 and Red Bluff in Pasadena. She had a heart attack. Since she did not feel chest pains and her left arm did not go numb, she and her husband had no clue how seriously ill she was at the time. He lived many years past her death always feeling guilty for not calling an ambulance.

Since the topic seems to be coming up repeatedly, please allow me to share some information from the American Heart Association. This is not fake news.

What women (and their families) need to know regarding heart attack symptoms in women can save a life. We are different from men in many ways. Most especially how we experience a heart attack. If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

*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, shoulder blades, neck, jaw or stomach.

*Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

*Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

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.

While a man might gasp and clutch his chest falling down, a female heart attack victim may be less dramatic. Because of subtle symptoms, women often ignore the warning signs. Women’s heart issues often begin with extreme, unexplainable fatigue.

Please love the Lord with all your heart. In order to do so, we must take care of it in the process.