Hard-to-Recognize Heart Attack Symptoms

June Chewning, BS MA

In my 38 year career and 18 years owning a fitness center, I know heart attacks happen.  I have heard about them when members went home, sat up in bed, and dropped dead next to their spouse after a visit to the gym. I have made the ambulance ride to the hospital with them when they thought they just pulled a chest muscle, but their pulse and blood pressure were erratic. When they went back to work after a lunch time work out to look up the symptoms of heat attack on Google and realize it was happening to them right then. When they couldn’t figure out why their calves hurt so bad when they exercised, and when told to stop exercise and consult their physician had triple by-pass surgery the next day.  When my friend’s sister had a massive heart attack at age 40 because they thought she had a bruise instead of a blood clot in her leg.  When a young teacher thought she had the flu from her kids at school and went home early from aerobic class feeling nauseous and dropped dead at the threshold of her apartment.

Health-Fitness professionals, heart disease is the leading cause of death  in the US.  You will encounter it.  Be prepared and get educated. Be aware and vigilant about seeing the tell tale and not so obvious symptoms in your clients.  Save a life…

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This article is from
the American Heart Association
Go Red for Women Program

Well-known heart attack symptoms can include chest pain and radiating discomfort in the left arm. But, as Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum explains, there are several other ways your body may tell you when something isn’t quite right, potentially with your heart.
Read on for details on four silent heart attack symptoms that women should most definitely be aware of.

Shortness of breath
According to Steinbaum, director of The Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, women often struggle to breathe a few weeks before experiencing a heart attack.
“If you are used to doing a certain amount of activity and then, all of a sudden, you can’t get enough air, that is when I get concerned,” says Steinbaum.

Back pain
Irregular pain in the lower or upper back can indicate stress to the heart muscle, Steinbaum says.

Jaw pain
“I had one patient who would feel her jaw start to hurt every time she got on a treadmill,” Steinbaum says. “But once she stopped, her jaw pain would go away. She went to a dentist, but there wasn’t anything wrong with her teeth.”
This discomfort continued until the woman experienced a heart attack. When she came into Steinbaum’s office after the event, it was evident that the jaw pain was directly linked to what was happening in her heart.
“Sometimes the heart isn’t able to give a good signal and, instead, the pain can radiate to the neck, jaw and back,” she says.

Flu-like symptoms are often reported weeks and days before a heart attack. In fact, as Steinbaum explains, TV personality Rosie O’Donnell reportedly regurgitated a few times before she experienced a heart attack in early 2012.

Advice: Trust Your Gut
If you aren’t feeling normal or are experiencing any of the symptoms above, head to you local emergency room. It is better to take care of yourself and prevent damage to your heart, in the event you are having a heart attack.
“A women’s intuition is a very strong thing; don’t ever discount it,” Steinbaum says.
“Ninety percent of my women patients who’ve just had a heart attack tell me that they knew it was their heart all along. That they just had a feeling.”

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