It’s no secret that we women tend to put our family and friends first — rushing through our day, caring for everyone we love to the best of our ability, keeping our households stocked and clean, staying on top of everyone’s schedules, juggling responsibilities between home and work and everything in between.
The sad truth is we’re usually too busy to be bothered by subtle health symptoms that tell us we need to slow down and seek help, which allows heart disease to sneak up on us without fair warning.
The fact is that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Yet, the symptoms of heart disease can be so subtle that many women often pass them off as minor ailments, such as aging, dizziness, indigestion or backache.
Rather than seek medical attention for what we believe to be minor or temporary health conditions, many women soldier on through their daily lives ignoring their symptoms and placing their families and responsibilities first.
Shockingly, in a national survey conducted by the American Heart Association, only 53 percent of women said the first thing they would do if they thought they were having a heart attack was to call 9-1-1.
Meanwhile, an estimated 43 million American women – including many as young as 19 – are currently living with heart disease. And year after year, heart disease kills one out of every three women – approximately one woman every minute of every day.
Thankfully, there are important steps women can take to protect themselves from heart disease, and the first step is to learn to recognize and act on any symptoms.
Not all symptoms of heart disease are sudden and intense. Most symptoms actually develop slowly over time causing only mild pain or discomfort that comes and goes, which leads many women to wait too long before getting help.
While the most common symptoms are chest pain or discomfort, women are more likely to experience other symptoms, like shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain.
No matter what your symptoms may be, the message is loud and clear: When it comes to your heart, always err on the side of safety.
When you do, you’ll either receive the medical attention you so desperately need to survive or will be told that you’re fine.
When you don’t, you ignore the discomfort, which becomes worse over time and could result in irreversible health complications, including death.
So make a promise to yourself to always keep your heart at the very top of your priority list, and if you experience any of the following heart attack symptoms, immediately seek medical attention:
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Pressure in the center of your chest (even if it comes and goes).
- Unexpectedly breaking out in a cold sweat.
- Sudden nausea or lightheadedness.
Also keep in mind that every minute matters when it comes to your heart, and fast action can save your life. While driving to the hospital might seem reasonable at the time, it could also delay necessary treatment up to an hour.
The fastest way to get lifesaving heart treatment is to call 9-1-1 for emergency medical staff, who can begin treatment as soon as they reach you and could also revive you if your heart stops.
This one small promise to yourself could make all the difference – not only in your life, but in the lives of all those who love you.