We all know the symptoms of a heart attack, right? You clutch your left shoulder/arm and collapse. If you have a tendency for the dramatics, you’ll fall to your knees before you go all the way down, making eye contact and reaching for someone. Seems kind of sudden, out of the blue, right? What most people don’t know is that there are more symptoms that can start days or even weeks before the actual attack. Bet you didn’t know that symptoms are also different for men and women.
The four symptoms that are commonly reported for both sexes are pain, shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat and fatigue. The rest of the symptoms can occur in both genders, but each is more likely to experience a certain set of aches and pains. Like for example, men are more likely to feel pain in the right side of their chest, experience indigestion and only feel a dull ache instead of a throbbing pain. On the other side of the spectrum, women are more likely to experience bouts of vomiting, feel a pressing on their chest, experience a sharp pain in the middle of their back or feel pain in their neck, throat or mouth.
Now what else do you think you know about heart attacks and heart disease? You probably know that they are in the top ten killers of Americans, but what is their actual spot? 8th? 5th? The number one killer of Americans is heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. Number 4 is strokes, another heart disease. Cancer is the most thought of, but it is actually in 2nd. What is dangerous about not knowing this is, that unlike cancer, you have a short window to get to the hospital to minimize the damage done by a heart attack. It has been estimated that 80% of deaths caused by heart attacks and strokes were avoidable, but the victim didn’t go to the hospital because they didn’t know the symptoms that were killing them.
The signs of a stroke are pretty universal in both sexes. They can be remembered with the acronym F.A.S.T.
- Face. Try to make exaggerated face motions, super smiles and frowns. Does one side droop?
- Arms. Try to raise your arms above your head. Is one of your arms drifting downwards?
- Speech. Try to say a simple phrase like ,”The quick brown fox jumped over the log”. Is your speech slurred or impaired?
- Time. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms call 9-1-1.
National Wear Red Day is the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association’s way of fighting back. On the first Friday of every February, they have their volunteers and anyone else that wants to wear red clothing. By having such a public presence, they are hoping to have people learn more about what affects their ticker. While this is targeted towards women with cardiovascular diseases, it is used as a fundraiser to drive research that will help everyone.
While the 3rd is just Wear Red Day, February is The American Heart Month. Visit the Wear Red page for more information about what you can do this month to help raise awareness.