Four years ago, at the age of 44, I had a heart attack. I was one of the lucky ones because women who have heart attacks are much less likely to survive.
Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year. – American Heart Association
A new book that came out last year called Invisible Women: Data Bias in A World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Perez talks about this and digs into the statistics in other areas where women are ignored. The symptoms a women can have when a heart attack takes place can often differ greatly than a man. I actually feel lucky that I had the traditional symptoms because my husband knew to call 911, but if I had the sore arm or back I would have ignored it, just writing it off as another one of my daily pains.
Heart disease does not run in my family, I did not have high blood pressure, and my cholesterol was slightly elevated, but not enough to be on medicine. Also, it is highly unusual for a women to have a heart attack before menopause, which at the time I wasn’t even pre-menopausal.
When I can’t cope with something I read to try to understand it. One of the books, I read that helped me is Saving Women’s Hearts: How You Can Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease with Natural and Conventional Strategies by Martha Gulati. It wasn’t able to give me an exact answer to why it happened to me, but it did answer and explain a lot of the things that were happening in layman’s terms. It also made me wish I had read it before I had the heart attack.
Finally, because fiction is my way to escape everyday things, though still relatable, I read and enjoyed Leave Me by Gayle Forman, which is about a working mom and wife who is so busy she doesn’t realize that she had a heart attack. She decides to run away from it all and when she does she discovers inner secrets about herself.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services also has information about American Heart Month. Ways to get involved, to practice a healthy lifestyle, and a social media toolkit! Help spread the word about heart health!
~posted by Pam H.