Many folks who read my blog know that I am a nurse as well as a crafter, seamstress, knitter, etc. And anyone who is a nurse knows that nurses make the worst patients. We tend to have two ways of thinking about our own health…either we have everything we see in our patients or we don’t believe the same things could happen to us and we ignore symptoms we would treat in our patients every day!
Last Wednesday I awoke with a heaviness in my chest…I thought nothing of it at the time, I have a shoulder that has been bothering me and I had a steroid injection on Monday to calm the shoulder down. So, I went on to work. I jumped into my usual work routine and started making phone calls. I realized into the second or third call that I was short of breath. So I stopped to evaluate the situation, like a nurse. I wasn’t sweaty, I had arm pain but that was from my shoulder (or was it?), I had pressure in my mid chest, I was starting to get worried, I was short of breath, this had been going on for a few hours (hmmm, maybe I should have had it checked out earlier), I was a little sick to my stomach (that was because I hadn’t taken time to eat or was it?), the heaviness in my chest was “heavier” (or was that pain?).
Facts on Women and Heart Disease
** Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, killing 292,188 women in 2009—that’s 1 in every 4 female deaths. Although heart disease is sometimes thought of as a "man's disease," around the same number of women and men die each year of heart disease in the United States. Despite increases in awareness over the past decade, only 54% of women recognize that heart disease is their number 1 killer.
** Heart disease is the leading cause of death for African American and white women in the United States. Among Hispanic women, heart disease and cancer cause roughly the same number of deaths each year. For American Indian or Alaska Native and Asian or Pacific Islander women, heart disease is second only to cancer. About 5.8% of all white women, 7.6% of black women, and 5.6% of Mexican American women have coronary heart disease.
** Almost two-thirds (64%) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms. Even if you have no symptoms, you may still be at risk for heart disease.
So, anyway, I went to the ER (drove myself of course—not a good idea!) and when I walked in and told the nurse who greeted me that I had heaviness in my chest, I was immediately surrounded by 6 staff—that’s when I really started getting scared. I was taken to a room (by wheelchair even) and within a few minutes had an EEG, was put on oxygen, an IV started, labs drawn, aspirin given, nitroglycerin spray given (to dilate the vessels in my heart and unfortunately in my head—hello massive headache). I had a doctor looking at the EEG in minutes. It looked OK, but we would wait for the lab tests to rule out cardiac muscle injury. I had a CT scan ordered because of the shortness of breath to rule out a blood clot that might have traveled to my lung. The doctor who took care of me told me that any of the signs I had could be heart attack symptoms as women have “nontraditional” signs.
Everything checked out OK and I was sent home with appointment for a stress echo (for this week) and reassurance that I did the right thing. All very scary, but I thought it would be a good reminder for every woman (and the men in their lives) to pay attention to your body and your gut instincts!
This post brought to you by my heart and yours!
I may be linking to some of these great parties!