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women and heart health

heart attack, symptoms of a heart attack, heart health women

Ever been afraid that maybe you were having a heart attack? Seriously. I’m not trying to be funny but I’m overweight and out of shape. A heart attack is a real possibility. I’m a fat woman. I have a BMI of 33 and I recently spent 4 months sitting on my butt. Honestly, you can look healthy and still have a heart attack. They don’t call it the silent killer in women for nothing.

I’ve seen the commercials citing that 1 out of 3 women will have a heart attack our symptoms are different than men. In fact, I know a friend who had a heart attack and didn’t even realize it until afterwards. I also have a great Aunt who spent the day with us touring the Biltmore Estate and had a heart attack. None of us knew until she told her doctor and he checked her, a week later. Ladies, that scares the ish out of me. I don’t want to die of a heart attack. I want to live to be 103. That’s my expiration date. It’s non-negotiable.

Anyways, last Friday morning; I woke up at 5 a.m. with a ridiculous pain in my actual stomach (not my intestines) and it would not go away. It woke me from my sleep and the little voice in my head, recited the commercial about the mom who thought she had indigestion but instead ended up dead because she was actually having a heart attack and TUMS ain’t got nothing on that.

I got up and took some Mylanta (because I always have it on hand since the first and only stomach ache I’ve ever had). It didn’t work. Then I took some TUMS. They didn’t work. Then I took a Xanax because I’m under a shiton of stress and maybe I was having a panic attack. Nothing. I waited half an hour. Still horrific pain. Now it was from my stomach to my right side of my rib cage.

Were these the symptoms of a heart attack?

You always hear of women thinking they had heartburn and it was something else; something more. I took my blood pressure with my portable Bluetooth QardioArm blood pressure monitor and checked it right there in the app on my phone and saved it to show the hospital. As moms, we are so focused on everyone else, we neglect ourselves. Don’t do that. It could mean the difference between life and death.

SHIT! I’m having a heart attack, so I took an aspirin because blood clots and strokes. At 6:30 a.m. when everyone else woke up, I texted my husband that I needed to go to the hospital. He assured me that it was heartburn from the Mexican food at Bella’s birthday dinner from the previous night.

Firstly, I’ve only had heartburn once in my life and this wasn’t it. Secondly, it felt like acid and a severe, prolonged heart cramp. I just knew I was dying but I kept it cool for my kids. We dropped them at school where I gave them extra long goodbye hugs and kisses, without divulging anything to them, and then we proceeded on to the Emergency room. I hate the emergency room.

Long story short, after 5 hours in the Emergency room, an EKG, an ultrasound (twice in one week, lucky me!), several blood tests and worrying myself into an absolute tizzy. We found out that no, I did not in fact have a heart attack but the doctor was glad that I had come in rather than ignore my symptoms. We found out that I have gallstones, 2 of them (they go perfectly with the 3 fibroids they found last Wednesday) and upon further questioning they found out that from the prolonged ibuprofen usage for the swelling in my broken leg, I have actually made the lining of my stomach sensitive.

The sensitive stomach and high cholesterol, high fat, highly greasy Mexican food did not enjoy one another’s company. My stomach became irritated which in effect affected my gallbladder (with it’s two stones). I had a gallbladder attack. It was not pleasant and I don’t recommend it.

They intravenously administered an antacid for my stomach, some Zofran so I wouldn’t throw up and a dose of happy, I mean morphine, for the pain. They gave me strict instructions to take Zantac, especially if I planned on continuing on with the ibuprofen regimen (which I have not) and to stay away from high cholesterol meals. I quit Ibuprofen cold turkey and have been reading labels because 103-years-old, people. My expiration date is 2075, not 2016.

The moral of the story is that when you think you might have something seriously wrong with you; trust your gut (pun intended). Maybe I wasn’t having an actual heart attack (but I could have been) but I did have something wrong with me and it needed medical attention STAT. I’m not sure that would have happened if I suffered through it at home or went to a walk-in clinic. I needed tests, not a Band-Aid.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Bring on Disney World because mama needs a vacation. Do yourself a favor and know the symptoms of a heart attack in women.

  • Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest that 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 lightheadedness.

Have you ever thought maybe you were experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or something serious and second-guessed yourself?


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