Sunday, February 17, 2013

February is Heart Month

heart tagxedo

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?).

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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. 
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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. 
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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!
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Go here, here and here to learn more about your heart health.
This post brought to you by my heart and yours!
I may be linking to some of these great parties!


Unknown said...

Wow! Scary! Thanks for sharing; it's a good reminder that the signs of heart attack in women are different than those for men.

Katrine said...

Not fun! I'm glad everything turned up fine. I hope the following tests are quick and uneventful for you!

The Domesticated Princess said...

My BFF had a similar incident recently and felt foolish for ending up in the hospital for no reason, but I told her I'd rather she be in a hospital healthy than having a heart attack and not realizing it, which happened to my cousin. Thanks for sharing your story and this important list. I hope you'll share it at our "What'd You Do This Weekend Linky Party at

Jill said...

Glad all turned out fine in the end Ellen -but what a scare! We all know we should be better safe than sorry - but it's all to easy to shrug off little niggly pains etc. Thanks for the reminder to take good care of ourselves!!

Anonymous said...

Glad you're ok! Fellow nurse here and wanted to give you kudos for your choice to go in! I drove my 18yo in (bad nurse, I know) to the ER and insisted on troponin levels, already immediately above 3! The EKG was wnl and they didn't want to run labs due to his age. Glad I knew to insist on those! 18 and had a heart attack, unbelievable! He is doing well now, Thank God.
Anyway, love your blog, going to "full" some of my Mom's sweaters & make memorial pieces with the flower tutes you gave...wish me luck! All the best to you.

Unknown said...

Oh Wow Ellen! I'm so glad you are okay! Thanks for these pointers! Thanks for sharing at The Gunny Sack!

Shannon Barefoot said...

very scary! I'm so glad you're ok. Thank you for sharing so many good tips and symptoms for everyone to keep in mind.

Shannon @ Sewing Barefoot

Liz @ Quirky Vistas said...

Glad you got yourself in to get checked out. It is hard for some people (such as myself) to take care of things instead of hoping they'll just go away. Thanks for all of the good information!