Symptoms of silent lady killer often ignored

Queen of Heart Disease

On any given day, a lady is able to make breakfast, clean the kitchen, do the laundry, deal with the children and work some men under the table. However, if a lady isn’t able to recognize certain symptom she may fall victim to a silent killer.

Heart disease is the number one fatal epidemic for women in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association. A heart attack strikes someone about every 34 seconds, yet, women often do not seek treatment – thinking their symptoms are non-life threatening and write them off to having the flu, acid reflux, or ailments from aging. Women need to realize that waiting a mere five minutes drastically reduces their rate of survival.

As certified medical assistants (CMA’s), we do not often see female patients complaining of heart attack symptoms. However, we often receive the unfortunate news of a patient passing away from a heart attack in their own home because they either did not recognize or seek treatment for their symptoms. Ladies tend to remain silent.

Our unfortunately deceased patient is often a lady who missed her follow-up appointment for blood pressure or cholesterol measurements. She may also be the type of patient who feels healthy, therefore does not always take her medications simply because she feels fine. She may also be the type of person like a housewife, mother, employee or employer who spends so much of her time taking care of others to consider her own health. Much like your mother, daughter, sister, cousin, neighbor, or friend.

Female heart attack symptoms may include but are not limited to:

  • chest pressure or pain, pain in one or both arms, and/or jaw pain
  • shortness of breath
  • unusual fatigue
  • nausea with or without vomiting, breaking out in a cold sweat, or lightheadedness
  • lower chest or abdominal discomfort that may feel like indigestion
  • back pain or pressure

These symptoms may be experienced alone or in combination with one another. If you or anyone you know suffers from any of these symptoms do not hesitate, contact 9-1-1 immediately.

"Just a little heart attack" American Heart Association video
Although family history plays a part in your chances of having heart disease, heart attacks can almost always be prevented with simple lifestyle changes. These changes include avoiding smoking and second-hand smoke exposure, abstaining from illegal drug use, limiting foods containing high amounts of fat and sodium, and exercising for a minimum of 20 minutes 3-4 days a week.

Seeing your family physician annually will also help you maintain a healthy heart. Have your physician check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels twice a year. It is also important to take all prescribed medications as indicated and ask if there are vitamins to help improve your heart health. If you have experienced chest pain or pressure, ask your physician to order an EKG.

Learn to recognize the symptoms and don’t second guess yourself. Your life (or that of your loved one) may hang in the balance.

Crystal Cantu, CMA, is a medical office manager and certified medical assistant for an internal medicine physician in Temple City, CA. She has over 19 years experience in the medical field. She has worked in doctors offices, clinics and hospitals throughout the scope of her career.
Kristen Johnston, CMA, is a certified medical assistant who also works for an internal medicine physician in Temple City, CA. She has over 6 years of experience in medical field including, pediatrics, oncology, and family medicine.

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