Nov 06 2007

Shaken

I just found out that a coworker had a heart attack over the weekend. It’s hard for me to even imagine.

She’s fine- let’s make that clear from the start. She had a little stint put in and she’s fast on the mend.

But the thought that a slim, healthy, active, (can’t be more than) 55 year old woman could be struck so suddenly with something so potentially deadly is indescribably frightening to me.

I think it’s because she’s so NOT the poster child for heart attacks. But maybe she should be. When I think heart attacks, I think older, overweight, out-of-shape men, or, at the very least, someone whose health is compromised in some way. But she is beautifully in shape, has three adult children, is married (seemingly) happily to her high school sweetheart, has a good job, has friends and a community, eats well, etc.

That’s the scary thing about heart disease, I guess- it can hit people in every demographic. She just had a little blockage and it could have killed her.

She had warning signs on Friday and mostly ignored them. It hit her full-on on Saturday.

From AmericanHeart.org:

Heart Attack Warning Signs
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense – the “movie heart attack,” where no one doubts what’s happening. But most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a heart attack is happening:

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs may include 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.

Learn the signs, but remember this: Even if you’re not sure it’s a heart attack, have it checked out. Minutes matter! Fast action can save lives – maybe your own. Don’t wait more than five minutes to call 9-1-1.

Heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men. Keep yourselves healthy. Pay attention to your bodies. Take care of you!

I mean, dude, hospital food SUCKS.