Posted by: palmettoislandgirl | February 24, 2011

Heart Health for Women

 

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My mom is recovering from an ‘episode’ dealing with her heart. Saturday she gave what has been said to have been a “very informative” presentation to her Sorors of Beta Zeta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, concerning heart health in women.  Mom suffered a heart attack followed by double by-pass surgery and pace-maker implant four years ago.  Since that time she has had a number of minor heart related episodes including angina.  Angina (an-JI-nuh or AN-juh-nuh) is chest pain or discomfort that occurs when an area of your heart muscle doesn’t get enough oxygen-rich blood. Angina may feel like pressure or squeezing in your chest. The pain also may occur in your shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. Angina pain may even feel like indigestion. (1)

Approximately fifteen minutes after returning home mom began experiencing discomfort in her chest.  Dad observed her a few minutes and called EMS, upon hearing her history, the team that examined her decided it was best to transport her to Providence Heart Hospital in Columbia, SC.  She was taken to Orangeburg Regional and then transported by Medevac Helicopter to Providence where she was initially in Intensive Care Unit and later moved.  A battery of tests were ordered and conducted throughout her stay including a Cardiac Catheterization

This is a procedure to examine blood flow to the heart and test how well the heart is pumping. A doctor inserts a thin plastic tube (catheter) (KATH’eh-ter) into an artery or vein in the arm or leg. From there it can be advanced into the chambers of the heart or into the coronary arteries.

This test can measure blood pressure within the heart and how much oxygen is in the blood. It’s also used to get information about the pumping ability of the heart muscle. Catheters are also used to inject dye into the coronary arteries. This is called coronary angiography (an”je-OG’rah-fe) or coronary arteriography (ar-te”re-OG’rah-fe). Catheters with a balloon on the tip are used in the procedure called coronary angioplasty (commonly referred to as percutaneous coronary intervention [PCI]). Catheterization of the heart may also be done on infants and children to examine for congenital (kon-JEN’ih-tal) heart defects. (2)

There were no blockages found, blood flow was good and mom is expected to be discharged tomorrow. Our family thanks God for His loving care and grace extended to mom and His guidance to the hospital staff in their care for her during her stay.  I would like to extend the information about heart attacks in women as mom was doing, so more of us can know what to look for and also work on prevention. 

Women and Heart Attack

If you’re a woman, you may not believe you’re as vulnerable to a heart attack as men–but you are. Women account for nearly half of all heart attack deaths. Heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men.

There are differences in how women and men respond to a heart attack. Women are less likely than men to believe they’re having a heart attack and more likely to delay in seeking emergency treatment.

Further, women tend to be about 10 years older than men when they have a heart attack. They are more likely to have other conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure–making it all the more vital that they get proper treatment fast.

Women should learn the heart attack warning signs. These are:

  • Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest.
  • Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including the arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Other symptoms, such as a shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.

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.

If you feel heart attack symptoms, do not delay. Remember, minutes matter! Do not wait for more than a few minutes–5 minutes at most–to call 9-1-1. Your family will benefit most if you seek fast treatment.

To learn more about women and heart disease: Healthy Heart Handbook for Women. (3)

Endnotes:

1)      Diseases and Conditions Index (DCI) http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Angina/Angina_WhatIs.html

2)      American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4491

3)       National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/actintime/haws/women.htm

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