We all know that one day we’ll eventually lose a parent. I didn’t expect to see my mother go at 55, but neither was she prepared to say goodbye to her mother at 88. You’re never really prepared to lose that buffer between you and the end.
I took the sensible precautions after my mother died from heart disease. I saw a cardiologist for a complete workup: EKG, echocardiogram, blood pressure. I watched my heart beat on the echo. You’d think that a broken heart would be somehow visible, that a trained medical professional could see your pain.
I was declared to be in perfect health.
I don’t have the risk factors that my mother had. I’m not obese. I don’t have high cholesterol. I go to the doctor regularly. And yet, it’s always there, nagging at me from the undesirable end of the insurance risk pool.
The symptoms of heart disease are different in women. Because we put things off and take care of others first, our heart disease is often advanced by the time we seek help. Symptoms include:
- Discomfort, tightness,uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes, or comes and goes
- Crushing chest pain
- Pressure or pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck, upper back, jaw, or arms.
- Dizziness or nausea
- Clammy sweats, heart flutters, or paleness
- Unexplained feelings of anxiety, fatigue or weakness – especially with exertion
- Stomach or abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
Know your numbers. Know your risk factors. See your doctor at least once a year, just to make sure that things are still as expected. And if you even suspect that you might be having a heart attack, for goodness sake, please call 9-1-1!