by M.D. Creekmore on March 13, 2013 · 14 comments
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Having gone through two heart attacks (myocardial infarction) myself, IMHO the chart is a good start; however, different people will experience different symptoms at different extremes, and symptoms can be different for men than for women.
From my experience, at 41, my first MI woke me up at 2:00 AM with it feeling like someone was trying to forcefully push a softball through my ribcage from the inside and I was drenched with sweat. This was due to a 95% occlusion of the Right Coronary Artery, which resulted in a trip to the ‘Cath Lab’ and receiving two stents.
My second MI occurred two years later after playing with my dog outside and I was climbing the stairs back to my place, again resulting in another trip to the Cath Lab and receiving two more stents. That was eleven years ago.
While you cannot change you genetic structure, what people really need to do is to take better care of themselves by eating good healthy foods (not fast food junk), exercise more, and be more cognizant of your family history and potential symptoms.
If you are overweight, smoke, have extensive stress in your life, then you should take this to heart… so to speak… focus on changing your habits now for a better and healthier lifestyle NOW, not after it is too late.
Even though I have seen this before, always good to have a fresh reminder. Thanks.
This is good . While we are on the subject , sometimes when a person is under prolonged stress , a persons defenses get worn down , they may think they are having a heart attack ….but may in reality , be actually having a panic attack ……the symptoms are very similar . Both are bad , but can be treated . Knowing the difference is important .
Especially women…..I went to the ER…b/p elevated, anxious, and just did not feel right…triage nurse said b/p elevated because I was anxious about being in ER…told her I was an ER nurse and was NOT anxious about being there..about 45 min late I was taken back to a room…ekg normal and ER Dr. said I did not “present” like someone having a heart attack…no arm pain, no shortness of breath, no sweating ….my bp was extremely high for me, both sides of my jaw were aching, and pain in the back of my throat….told her I would die in the waiting room…I WAS NOT LEAVING…she finally agreed to admit me…in the room about an hour later I began to have pain in my back and hurting in my shoulders…the nurse gave me an anxiety pill and said I was fine….I called a friend that was an ER nurse and told her to come to hospital before I died…she drove 45 min in the night to the hospital…by then I was in the midst of a big heart attack….the moral to this story….women do not have the same symptoms and pray the ER dr. has a least watched a little tv to know this….and never stay in the hospital alone…you need an advocate…..or a muscle man. Thank God for my dear friend Melanie.
Other tidbit….had been complaining of my jaw hurting for several months…my dentist pulled several teeth thinking this was the problem… frightening would you say ?
ER Dr.thought my DH had a strained rt shldr. Said no enzymes showed in the blood so go home. I threw a fit and admitted him . Took another blood panel a few hours later and he had a heart attack. My 42 yo cousin wasn’t so lucky. ER Dr. sent him home with maalox. He went to sleep and never woke up. If the ER says you are not having a hrt attack make them prove what it is and always go in an ambulance otherwise you’ll die in the waiting room.
My first MI, I was stupid… I waited to take my son to school in the morning and then drove myself to the hospital, in pain. When I got to the crowded ER and all I said was I have an intense “chest pain” and they took me in right away without waiting.
Like I said, I was stupid and could have left my son without his dad, but my experience for the ER, those two words “chest pain” is not taken lightly and it had escalated the triage process.
G-Ma is right though… don’t be stupid and call 911 for the ambulance.
Niece, 34 year old, had shoulder pain for about a week. just thought she had pulled a ligament. went for a job interview and physical..they sent her directly to ER…. DX. MI, (heart attack) placed on disability for several months, but recovering because of a physical required for a job.
I second the Plea…Do not EVER stay in a hospital alone!
You need someone with you who can be your voice to call for assistance when you are too ill, to be constantly vocal!
We have some wonderful Dr’s and Nurses in this country, but each one is part of an overburdened system. They can’t know all and see all. Having an extra set of eyes, and a mouth at your bedside may save your life.
THANK YOU !!!!! Arlene
As an ER MD, I must take offense to many of the postings today. I am sorry many of you had an unfortunate experience. Heart attack is not easy to diagnose. It is not one test, one symptom, one body type, one risk factor. It is a plethora of subtle findings, experience, and when everything else is normal…gut feeling. Patients do not always describe their symptoms in a way that make sense, especially when under duress. It would be nice if we could admit everyone who had perfectly normal EKGs, labs and minimal risk factors. However, thanks to Obamacare we are already overwhelmed and are forced to risk stratify patients even further. Yes, we are human. Yes sometimes our tests are imperfect. Yes many times we are imperfect. We do the best with the available information. You cannot begin to imagine how many thousands of complaints of chest pains we see daily. Some will be discharged with a wrong diagnosis. This occurs for any problem. Your ER nurses and Doctors are highly trained, do not rely on ‘TV’ for their information. They are not perfect. So please cut us some slack. Walk a few million miles in our shoes and realize all the patients with heart attacks we DO save, but are never thanked. What we get are the few unfortunate missed MIs and disgruntled patients who cannot comprehend the medical complexity and risk taking necessary to get through the day. When you are perfect, please let us know.
My deepest apologies. Physicians have been the difference between life and death with many of us.
We have the most wonderful Doctors and our favorite hospital.
The point I was trying to make is that triage and diagnosis of heart attacks can’t always be done in minutes. Dr.s and ER nurses and aides are frequently buried by sick and injured people and overworked. When in his best health, my DH has difficulty describing his symptoms, without me being Dr. Mom and being his advocate when he had his 1st MI, he would have been sent home. Who has heart pain in the Right shoulder? And the enzymes in the blood didn’t show until hours after his attack.
Thank you and the ER people for your incredible service.
I still encourage everyone to not dismiss unusual pain or discomfort regarding the heart.
Dear Dr. Tarheel twice-Sorry if some folks were negative.Like any profession there are fine Drs and nurses and some that
arent as good.
When I had severe chest pains and sweating and felt like I was truly going to die-we went to our local ER . I was given an ekg and aspirin and possibly digitalis. The pain was so bad I cried
silently.The nurse demanded to know why was I crying?)
After the medication kicked in my pain abated. later a Dr came in and told me the pain came from my having large bosoms and the weight must have caused a muscle spasm.(I am not a Dr but I have a Masters degree and worked in a hospital and had seen many ill patients.I was a Chaplain)
I asked the Dr why all of a sudden this would happen when I
had this same body for so many years.(He couldnt give me an answer) .Now if I were a flat chested woman what would he have said ?? )- or if I hjad been a male?) .There is discrimination often for woman .
I admire the many dedicated people in the medical field.-but this man I believe was wrong. Arlene
PS- MD, I am disappointed you allow such bashing to be posted. I used to be impressed with your blog. This appears to be merely a forum for complaints against the very people who serve you.
Sorry, that is Tarheel not Tarhill. You have my highest regard.
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