Happy American Heart Month! It’s the time of year dedicated to spreading awareness about heart disease (which kills more women than all forms of cancer combined) and highlighting the warning signs you or a woman you love may be having a heart attack.
We’ve all seen the man on TV complaining about a strange sensation in his left arm, followed by a sudden, intense chest pain that sends him crashing to the floor. There’s a reason actors portray a heart attack that way, that’s how many (but not all) men experience one.
For women, the symptoms are just as dire, but often much more subtle (and easier to ignore):
- Chest discomfort – often described as pressure rather than acute pain in women
- Discomfort in other parts of the body – one or both arms, the back, jaw, or stomach
- Shortness of breath – with or without chest discomfort
- Cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness
Emmy-nominated actress Elizabeth Banks directs and stars in this “little film about a super mom who takes care of everyone except herself”. It shows how easily women (in particular) can shrug off these warning signs.
If you or someone you know is experiencing some or all of these symptoms, call 911 immediately so an ambulance can be sent for you. Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack (or “it’s just a little heart attack”) – call. Minutes matter and fast action can save lives.
Don’t drive yourself to the hospital or ask a friend or neighbor for a ride. In an ambulance, emergency medical services (EMS) staff can start treating you for your symptoms. In Frederick County, all advanced life support (ALS) ambulances are wired with LifeNet, a service that securely transmits your EKG from the moving ambulance to the emergency department at Frederick Memorial Hospital. With advance notice a heart attack patient is coming in, the hospital can assemble the right doctors, nurses and other staff to start treatment right away.
Interested in learning more about women and heart health? Check out We’ve Got the Beat!, a special event at the Women’s Center at FMH Crestwood the evening of February 28th. Topics for discussion include heart disease symptoms, treatment and prevention, congestive heart failure, stroke and chest pain, interventional cardiology and cardiac rehabilitation. For more information or to register, call 240-566-3384.