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Posts Tagged ‘symptoms of heart attacks in women’

Experts say that a heart attack usually hits not when you are experiencing stress, but once you’ve relaxed: on Sunday mornings rather than at the mid-week board meeting; on the golf course more often than at your desk. And that’s how it happened with me. It came like a sniper.

I felt relaxed for the first time in weeks. I’d had a few glasses of wine during the evening and enjoyed fruit and cheese and crackers. I’d laughed with friends and family as they good-naturedly music-jammed, and I’d even joined them at the microphone for a few minutes. It was a good night.

The only abnormality at all was that I was sweating profusely. My hair was soaked underneath and I spent half the night holding it up off of my neck.

We arrived home at around 1:30, and shortly afterwards I began to experience what I thought was simple indigestion. I had some pressure at my breastbone and even burped a little. I chewed two antacids, got ready for bed and waited for it to abate. It didn’t.

When I tried to lie down, the pain in the centre of my chest grew sharper. I have a hiatus hernia, so my first thought was that acid was rising up into my esophagus and causing a spasm. It’s happened to me before. I got up and walked around. I went downstairs, took a drink of water and sat on the couch with my computer. The pain was not as severe sitting up and at some point, I must have dosed off for a while. A sharp stab jolted me upright, and the pain of that movement made me realize this was not simply heartburn.

Very soon, I was aware of pain from my breastbone through to my spine, from the spine through my left side, both front and back, under my arm to my armpit, up my neck to my jaw and down my arm to my hand. I woke my husband and he immediately called an ambulance. It was 5:15 in the morning.

Despite calling an ambulance, I didn’t believe it was my heart. It felt like a mega muscle spasm, generating just under my left shoulder blade and twisting my entire left side out of shape. Having fibromyalgia, I’m prone to such things. While I waited for the ambulance, I writhed in pain, lifting my left arm up over my head, bending sideways and forwards to stretch out my back. My stomach cramped and I threw up. I was light-headed.

When the paramedics arrive, they too first suspected muscle spasms. One paramedic found a huge knot on the left side of my back. “Does this hurt?” he asked. I moaned with the pain.

Heart attack was the last thing on my mind or theirs, until my blood pressure took a rapid drop in the ambulance. Suddenly, everything changed. The ambulance siren kicked in, they gave me aspirin, nitroglycerine, and then an oxygen mask. It was all very surreal.

Once we arrived at the hospital, they wasted no time. There was a flurry of activity around me – EKG’s, blood tests, a constant monitor, and an IV administering blood thinners. I was in constant pain, making futile attempts to find a position where I didn’t hurt as much. The pain came in waves – a dull ache for a couple of minutes, followed crescendos where it stabbed at my breastbone and made it hard to breathe. The curtain in the emergency room cubicle was open, and people glanced at me as they walked by. I cared about nothing but the pain. Finally, a nurse injected me with something that helped, and a young doctor returned to check on me.

I expected to hear “you had a severe muscle spasm that’s now under control.” Instead I heard the words “you’ve had a heart attack. We’re admitting you.”

He may as well have told me that I was now living on Mars. It was that surreal.

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