Heart Attack – Are You having One? -

Heart Attack – Are You having One?

A silhouette of a black woman with an afro with a broken heart pinned together on her chest

Sadly, I have learned of another woman who died of a heart attack. Family and friends were shocked because her death was entirely unexpected but a heart attack can give warning signs.  Heart attacks are the biggest killer of women. Listeners on Galaxy 102.5FM were astounded by this when I raised the topic last year.

A heart attack may have early warning signs; perhaps providing even a month’s notice.  These early warning signs can be confused with a cold or even, dependent on age, the menopause.  The best way to prevent a heart attack is by recognising the symptoms and acting on them.  Treatment is most effective when administered immediately after the symptoms occur.

A heart attack is damage to the heart muscle that occurs due to reduced blood flow to the heart muscle; depriving the heart muscle of the oxygen it needs to function properly.  The damage results in the warning signs outlined below.

Chest Pain, Jaw Pain, Toothache, Headaches

Chest pain is still the most common symptom of heart attack in 60% of cases.  Have all chest pain examined!

However, approximately 40% of women have no chest pain.  Women are also more often likely to have other symptoms.  Women have reported toothache and headaches as a symptom of a heart attack.

Weakness, Fatigue, and Fainting

If your body suddenly becomes weak, it may be a result of the arteries in the heart constricting.  This restriction will prevent the blood from circulating and reduce the oxygen to muscles.  Consequently, a woman may faint for no apparent reason.  If this happens to you, don’t feel silly get medical attention.

The narrowing of the arteries also causes fatigue because the heart has to work that much harder.  Women may be left feeling exhausted, drowsy or light-headed.  It may cause you to wake up tired or struggle to get through the day.  Seek medical attention.

Shortness of Breath

The lungs, like the muscles, suffer from a lack of oxygen when the arteries are constricted. The lack of oxygen hampers breathing. Therefore, fatigue and or weakness may be accompanied by a shortness of breath without any chest pain.  Shortness of breath may also occur before or during the chest pain of a heart attack.  Don’t wait, seek medical attention immediately.

Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital reported that 43% of women experienced unusual fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting during a heart attack – but no chest symptoms.

Cold Sweats and Dizziness

The heart is a pump; that pushes blood around your body.  The arteries, when constricted, reduce the flow of blood to the brain.  Initial signs of this are colds sweats and dizziness.  Do not ignore these signs and put it down to other causes.  Seek medical attention.

Coughs, Cold and ‘Flu Symptoms

Women have often reported that they had a cold or the ‘flu immediately before experiencing a heart attack.  These are an early warning sign.  If you are showing symptoms of either a cold, ‘flu and, or a persistent dry barking cough and you cannot trace how you became ill, then contact your doctor.  It is better to be safe than sorry.

Heart Burn, Indigestion, and Stomach Pain

Patients have reported heart attacks as starting as an uncomfortable feeling or a stabbing pain in the middle of the upper abdomen (above the belly button).  The pain tends to persist for more than a few minutes and can occur with or without pain in the true chest area.  Sufferers have described this pain as heartburn.

Some people experiencing a heart attack can have belching and burping and express a feeling of indigestion.

Upper Back Pain, Shoulder, and Neck

The upper back is another common location for the spread of the pain from a heart attack.  Most commonly, back pain that stems from a heart attack is described as occurring between the shoulder blades.

A burning sensation or tightness in the neck, throat or armpits can also be an indication of heart trouble.  Seek medical advice.

Other symptoms include restlessness, insomnia or anxiety.  Numbness of the hands, feet and lips, which may also turn bluish.

Silent Heart Attacks

In one American study one-third of the patients who had heart attacks had no chest pain.  These patients were more likely to be older, female, or diabetic.

The more signs and symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you’re having a heart attack.  Women often ignore early warning signs because they are busy looking after everybody else!

Acting quickly can save your life.

Call 999 for an ambulance and say ‘I think I am having a heart attack.’

Chew one uncoated Aspirin (if you are not allergic) while waiting.  This action can limit the damage to your heart and save your life.

I have looked at the relationship of women and heart disease in the post  Science & Health of Women and The Trans-Women Debate.

Connect with me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/imjussayin2

A Medical Doctor On Women’s Symptoms


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  • It always concerns and saddens me that the overwhelming amount of time, attention and effort is usually spent on diagnosis and cure rather than prevention.

    Illness, and heart disease in particular, does not exist in isolation from how one’s life it lived.

    There is a large amount of information, both scientific and anecdotal, about how to go about preventing and lessening the probability of unnatural premature death- including from heart problems. Unfortunately, those who need it most tend to ignore it and wait until late in the day to try get cured. I have tried to do my own small bit in my philosophy to get the emphasis shifted towards prevention.

    • Hello Eric,

      As much as I agree, I think there is also great pressure to eat and drink the wrong foods and beverages, coke and pizza being just two examples. They are glamourized. The advertisers are mighty giants!

  • The following taken from DOCTORMURRAY.COM

    February 24th, 2016

    One simple rule that would save a lot of suffering in the world is to “never take a drug that has more severe side effects than your symptoms.” A new study highlights this adage as it shows an extremely popular group of stomach acid-blocking drugs, the proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), are now linked strongly to another serious side effect – this time dementia.
    This risk is added to the other conditions these drugs produce including osteoporosis, heart attacks, strokes, intestinal infections, bacterial pneumonia, and multiple nutrient deficiencies. Here is the blaring fact that not enough doctors and patients know. It is conservatively estimated by noted experts in conventional medicine that up to 70% of all PPI prescriptions are likely inappropriate. In alternative medical circles that number is 100%.
    Popular examples of PPIs include Nexium, Prilosec, Protonix, Prevacid, and Aciphex.
    These drugs are dominant medical treatment of peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and indigestion.
    Background Data:
    PPIs will typically raise the gastric pH above the normal range of 3.5, effectively inhibiting the action of pepsin – an enzyme involved in protein digestion that can be irritating to the stomach. Although raising the pH can reduce symptoms, it also substantially blocks a normal body process – digestion! The manufacture and secretion of stomach acid is very important not only to the digestive process, but also because it is an important protective mechanism against infection. Stomach secretions can neutralize bacteria, viruses and molds before they can cause gastrointestinal infection.
    As far as the digestive process, stomach acid is not only important in the initiation of protein digestion, it ionizes minerals and other nutrients for enhanced absorption; and without sufficient secretion of HCl in the stomach the pancreas does not get the signal to secrete its digestive enzymes.
    PPIs drugs are associated with numerous side effects and here are just a small number of examples:
    • Pneumonia – People using acid blockers were 4.5 times as likely to develop pneumonia as were people who never used the drugs. Apparently, without acid in the stomach, bacteria from the intestine can migrate upstream to reach the throat and then lungs to cause infection.
    • Increased fractures – people taking high doses of acid-blocking drugs for longer than a year had a 260 percent increase in hip fracture rates compared to people not taking an acid blocker. Evidence suggests that these drugs may disrupt bone remodeling making bones weaker and more prone to fracture.
    • Heart attacks – Stanford researchers found regular use of PPIs to have a two-fold increase in dying from heart disease compared to those not taking PPIs.
    • Vitamin B12 insufficiency – acid blocking drugs not only reduce the secretion of stomach acid, but also intrinsic factor (a compound that binds to and assists the absorption of vitamin B12). Vitamin B12 deficiency is among the most common nutritional inadequacy in older people. Studies indicate that 10 to 43 percent of the elderly are deficient in vitamin B12making them at risk for a number of health conditions including dementia. Many elderly put away in nursing homes for Alzheimer’s disease, may simply be suffering from vitamin B12deficiency.
    New Data:
    A new study from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases published online February 15, 2016 in JAMA Neurology, has confirmed the suspected link between PPIs and dementia. The study used the largest mandatory public health insurer in Germany, which includes one third of the overall population and as much as 50% of the elderly population. Its database includes information on diagnoses and drug prescriptions.
    Read More

  • Concerning the video (above) HEALTHBEAT…

    With respect to a woman’s risk of heart disease NOT A WORD is said about prevention.

    NOT A WORD about the dangers of pollution- both atmospheric and electronic radiation pollution (computer/cell phone etc.). [Can Cellphones Affect Your Heart Health? A Cardiologist …

    NOT A WORD about adopting an open mind about learning good things to do and not do to and with your body, for example, with regard to food and drink.

    NOT A WORD about sufficient and beneficial proper exercise.

    The video does deliver useful practical information.

    It is always tragic when someone suffers and dies from a heart attack; moresoe if and when such an event might have been prevented.

    • Hello Eric,

      The video clip is American and it is arguable that the capitalist nature of the American health care system is such that their interests lie in disease and illness.

      Prevention is always better than cure. Nonetheless, I felt it was important to let women know that we are at high risk from heart attack and there are warning signs. If this message saves one life, it is a job well done. As you know, it is important to tackle the cause and this will be a future post.

      Thank you for your observations and I do hope you received my email.



  • Roz

    I look forward to your thoughts on prevention.

    In the meantime, TO EMPHASIZE PREVENTION OF HEART (and other diseases)…

    Read- The Wine Diet- by Professor Roger Corder [ISBN 978-0-7515-4201-1].

    DO NOT be misled by the book’s misleading title. You do not have to drink one drop of wine to benefit from this book. It is an extremely good meta-analysis of many nutritional and life studies- and scientific research- as well as giving the results of Corder’s own original international investigations.

    This book should be on the bookshelf of every home. Corder, now a Professor at Queen Mary College, University of London, is an authority on nutrition and lifestyle. The book is written in clear, plain, easy- to- understand laywoman’s English. It contains a large amount of science and evidence- based data, and a lot of Corder’s sound, practical advice. This book is worth its weight in gold, but can be purchased online, second hand, for the absurdly low price of about £3; from http://www.abebooks.co.uk.

    It was written some 10 years ago and is a bit out of date in a few places. Later developments have been with respect to:

    1. PROCYANADINS. These ares the chemicals that Corder identifies as an important contributor to longevity in certain regions of the world. Raw, unprocessed, organic cacao powder has recently begun to be manufactured. This cacao is said to contain as much procyanadin as any red wine. Evidence- based proof of the efficacy of raw cacao with regard to high blood pressure (a cause of heart attack and stroke) was gathered by Professor Hollenberg of Harvard Medical School (see Hollenberg, N. [et al], Hypertension 1997, 29: 171-176, and Nephron 1999, 82: 131-138).

    Raw, unprocessed, ground at low temperature cacao powder is available from http://www.superfoodies.com or, in London, from Brixton Wholefoods, Atlantic Rd., Brixton. They also stock organic and non- organic freshly ground cinnamon, which should be mixed with the cacao to enhance its effectiveness; 1 teaspoon cinnamon to 2-3 tablespoons cacao stirred in to a mug of cold water and left to sit for a few minutes then stirred again to dissolve. The cacao comes in 500g packs for £15. This is enough to last for months.

    It is delicious, and one of the most nutritious foods on the planet provided that you do not heat it, sweeten it, or adulterate it by processing (as is done to make chocolate bars and drinks).
    (See, e.g. Holt, RR., Lazarus, SA, Sullards, Mc [et al] Procyanadin Dimer B2 Human Plasma After the Consumption of Flavanoid-Rich Cocoa Am J. Clin Nutr 2002, 76:1106-1110)
    (And Kris-Etherton,PM, Keen,C.L., Evidence that Flavonoids in Tea & Cocoa are beneficial for Cardiovascular Health. Curr Opin, in Lipidol 2003: 13:41-49).

    2. GROUNDING/EARTHING. Research by scientists, including a Cardiologist, has produced evidence of the benefits of being connected to the earth’s powerful negatively charged electrons. This is especially effective during sleep (see http://www.grounding.com/Scientific Research ).

    Grounding relieves stress and releases the stress hormone cortisol. It thins the blood, naturally, lowering the chance of stroke/heart attack. And there are other benefits. I can testify that grounding during sleep reduces any pain, reduces stress and promotes better sleep. I ground myself for 8 hours every night. And I am in excellent health and have been for 75+ years.

    Groundology.com sell various apparatus for grounding, much of it pricey and unnecessary.

    In my own book ‘Yet More Philosophical Thoughts’, due to be published in weeks, I give details with photos of an inexpensive grounding device I designed for DIY construction. This consists of a bracelet connected by a wire through a resistor. It is fastened to a cold water pipe. The bracelet is worn on your foot while asleep. My device, unlike commercial apparatus, does not wear out. It should last hundreds of years (although you won’t- but you could give it to your great, great, grandchildren). I have already been asked to construct completed sets for sale. I am a philosopher, not a businessman; so I won’t. DIY!

    Please get Professor Corder’s book and read it again and again. My own copy is full of highlighting on almost every page.

    I hope that all women at risk of heart disease get grounded during sleep and stay grounded for the rest of their lives.

      • Hello Eric,

        I re-issued the email today. There do not seem to be problems at my end. If you do not receive it, I will try an alternative address email account or the post!

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