Women do ALL the things. We work, mother, and carry the weight of our families on our shoulders. We sacrifice our sleep, the last bite of our double chocolate brownie, drinking our coffee hot, and often, ourselves. So it’s no surprise that one woman on Twitter missed the signs of her own heart attack.
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In the chaos and busyness of just trying to maintain some semblance of control over the insanity that is our lives, we ignore the messages our own bodies are sending us.
We shrug off the nagging aches and pains. We say “hell no!” to colds and the flu. Because ain’t no woman got time for that.
Instead, we power through.
Which is exactly what one woman, who goes by the Twitter handle, @geewheezie, did, and it nearly cost her her life.
The nurse, mother, and self-described “older woman” had spent weeks experiencing what she thought was just muscle strain. Turns out she was a walking heart attack.
I want to warn women our heart attacks feel different. Last Sunday I had a heart attack. I had a 95% block in my left anterior descending artery. I’m alive because I called 911. I never had chest pain. It wasn’t what you read in pamphlets. I had it off & on for weeks.
— gwheezie (@geewheezie) December 9, 2018
Prior to her heart attack, she spent the week helping her neighbor clean out her barn.
She assumed that she had just overdone it. She had burning and aching pain running across her upper back, shoulder blades, and down both arms. She popped a Motrin and briefly considered seeing a doctor but who has time for a doctor?
Instead she drove 6 hours out of state to help her 90-year-old mother.
I thought I should go to a dr but I had to help my mom who is 90 & I’d just tough it out because it wasn’t real bad.
Because women are strong, people. Like warrior strong. Except it was that bad. One day and one heart attack later, drenched in sweat and vomiting, she finally called 911.
According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
While chest pain is a common symptom, the World Health Organization recognizes that women often have different symptoms than men. They state:
Women are more likely to have shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Here are other symptoms of a heart attack that you may not know about:
- Unusual fatigue lasting for several days or sudden severe fatigue
- Sleep disturbances
- Indigestion or gas-like pain
- Upper back, shoulder, or throat pain
- Pressure or pain in the center of your chest, which may spread to your arm
All symptoms which, if you think about it, can also be attributed to motherhood.
Sleep disturbances and fatigue? I haven’t slept through the night since the day my first was born.
It’s not just that women often experience more vague symptoms than men; women are also less likely to seek medical help, which is so NOT surprising.
How many times have you battled a nasty apocalyptic flu and still managed to keep tiny humans alive? I’m guessing A LOT.
Because women? We get things done, no matter what it takes.
We are so used to putting the needs of others first and minimizing our own needs, that there is little regard for self-care. We push past pain and more often than not, assume it will just go away.
When women do eventually seek medical treatment for a heart attack? They are often misdiagnosed with anything from indigestion, acid reflux, anxiety, and menopause.
A study conducted by the New England Journal Of Medicine found that women younger than 55 were seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed than their male counterparts.
Thankfully, @geewheezie was not one of these statistics. She had 4 stents placed within an hour of arriving at the hospital and was discharged 4 days later.
She decided to tweet about her heart attack experience in the hopes of raising awareness for other women at risk.
After posting her tweet, several other women stepped forward, commenting on their own heart attack experiences. Think they only happen to old people? Nope.
Think heart attacks come on suddenly and dramatically, like every Hollywood movie scene ever portrayed? Nope. The symptoms often come and go over weeks or even months.
I’m 35 and suffered a heart attack 8 months ago. I did not have the Sig’s you hear about and see on TV. I had no chest pain and no numbness in either arm or hand. I did feel a tad achy and flu like. It wasn’t until ai felt like I was somewhat having a panic attack. Be careful!
— Kasey Maher (@KaseyMaher) December 26, 2018
I was an outlier & thought my shoulder back pain was from yoga. I was young non smoker, not overweight, no family history, no high cholesterol or BP. Totally out of the blue. Two year survivor.
— CawfeeNut????? (@yankees_nut) December 10, 2018
Same! 44 years old. The shoulder blade pain absolutely did not register as a heart attack. It wasn’t until I was in so much pain that I was gasping for air that I finally went to the ER. I was rushed in for surgery 10 minutes after the EKG was hooked up to me.
— MeemawKateDates (@KateMeemaw) December 10, 2018
Yep. I had mine last summer. My dad had his bypass surgery at the same age I am – 54. I thought the burning in my chest when I walked uphill was my asthma. It was a 99% blockage of my LAD. I almost died too – and I taught physiology for 15 years and should have known better.
— Dr. Amber (@sciencechick1) December 10, 2018
My second heart attack was this year at 50. Got a bad headache, arms were hurting and mouth felt like I’d been punched in the jaw. Broke out into a sweat. Another 100% blockage and another stent. All genetic, cause by nothing by genetics. Women is much different than men symptoms
— SicilianBeauti?? (@SicilianBeauti) December 11, 2018
Yes, we are women. We are strong and fierce. However, we are not invincible.
Don’t ignore the symptoms. If you suspect that you are having a heart attack, get checked. It may just save your life.