Sunday, September 29, 2013

Would You Recognize a Heart Attack?

When my mother was 65, only one year older than I am now, she had a massive heart attack, followed by triple by-pass surgery the next morning.  Until the heart attack hit her, she thought she was only feeling a little uncomfortable because of the heat that day.  She and my Dad were in the process of cleaning out my grandmother's house after my grandmother had moved to assisted living.  They spent the day cleaning and packing up granny's belongings.  It was a hot summer day and my parents were carrying things in and out of the house, so the fact that my mother was perspiring heavily and feeling a little weak did not alarm her ... until she collapsed.

Symptoms of Heart Attacks 

We are all accustomed to the movie version of heart attacks in which a man puts his hands to his chest and collapses.  However, while this dramatic event will sometimes occur, it is not the first or most likely sign that you may be having a heart attack.  Listed below are the symptoms that both men and women should be concerned about:

Excessive perspiration, including a red face
Shortness of breath when you have not been exerting yourself
Indigestion
A heavy feeling in the chest or back
Achy, flu-like symptoms
Pain in the jaw, neck, back, or chest that doesn't go away
Extreme and sudden weakness or fatigue

All of these symptoms are especially alarming if they come on quickly and they are not relieved when you sit or lie down.   However, if you are experiencing these symptoms and cannot figure out why, you need to seriously consider the possibility that you are having a heart attack.

As you'll see in the comment section below, Domestic Diva said, "Your warning symptoms should be taken seriously. I think one of the reactions you'll find experienced by many heart attack survivors is that what they felt was somehow different. It wasn't quite like indigestion they've had before, or a flu they've suffered in the past. If you've lived to your 60s and experience a discomfort you've never had in all those years, it's worth getting checked out."  I moved her comment up here because I thought her words were something everyone should read.

Heart Disease Does Not Discriminate

When you read the list of symptoms above, many of them can also indicate very common illnesses, such as the flu, a strained muscle, or heat exhaustion.  Because many heart attack symptoms are vague, it is no wonder that my mother thought she was simply suffering from the effects of the heat.  Although she was a smoker, she was not over-weight and she had no history of heart disease.  She had no idea that she was in the process of having a heart attack until she collapsed and woke up in the hospital.

Many people still think of heart disease as an illness that primarily kills men.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  Women are actually about 15% more likely to have a heart attack than men, and they have double the chance of having a heart attack within six years of the first one.

Everyone should know that heart attacks kill women as well as men.  In addition, women (and their family members) need to know that women, in particular, can have a heart attack and never experience any chest pain!  About one out of three women will die of heart disease.  About two-thirds of them will have no prior symptoms. 

Our family was fortunate.  My mother is still alive at age 81, sixteen years after her heart attack and open heart surgery.  She has gone on to live an active lifestyle and, until recently, played golf on a regular basis. While she is suffering from other age-related health problems today, I'm pleased that she was able to survive her heart attack sixteen years ago.

For more information about this killer disease, go to the website of The American Heart Association.

If you are nearing retirement age and want more information about how to have a higher quality of life during your retirement years, please check out the index articles below.  They contain links to a number of helpful articles on a variety of topics.

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

You are reading from the blog:  http://baby-boomer-retirement.com

Public domain photo of a heart is courtesy of www.morguefile.com.

1 comment:

  1. How lucky for you to still have your mom, and me to have my husband. Your warning symptoms should be taken seriously. I think one of the reactions you'll find experienced by many heart attack survivors is that what they felt was somehow different. It wasn't quite like indigestion they've had before, or a flu they've suffered in the past. If you've lived to your 60s and experience a discomfort you've never had in all those years, it's worth getting checked out.

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