Connie Lynn considers herself a walking miracle after surviving a heart attack last year.
Last year on national women’s Heart Health Day in February, Lynn felt a tightness in her throat and had difficulty breathing.
Two common signs of a heart attack for a woman.
According to the American Heart Association, more women die from heart disease than from any other disease. Yet, symptoms of a heart attack can be different for women than for men.
On a Sunday afternoon, Lynn was doing yard work when she experienced a sudden shortness of breath.
“By the time I got to the garage, I just got a lot of pressure in my chest ... and then just a very thick tightness in my neck, and some aching in my arms,” Lynn said. “But my symptoms and my pain were never sever that it was unbearable.”
She immediately headed for the car and got her husband’s attention to drive her to the hospital. They went to Skyridge Medical Center, where she was later transported to Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga.
At the hospital, it was determined that a blockage in her left coronary artery, also known as the widow-maker, had triggered the attack. Lynn counts that she had no muscle damage from the heart attack as a miracle.
In “Heart Attack Symptoms in Women” on the American Heart Association website, cardiologist and American Heart Association volunteer Nieca Goldberg said women can have a heart attack with or without chest pain.
“Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue,” she added.
Other symptoms include vomiting combined with pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach or a cold sweat.
Lynn had seen a list of these symptoms in women only days before her attack.
Quick response to symptoms is crucial to surviving a heart attack. Calling 911 should be the first response to heart attack symptoms.
Lynn said she was a prime candidate for a heart attack. She had a history of heart disease in her family, was a smoker, had bad cholesterol and was overweight. In the hospital, Lynn found out she was also diabetic.
That day changed her life and her lifestyle.
“It makes everything real. You don’t take things for granted,” Lynn said. “My health was one of the major thing I took for granted.”
Reducing sugar and carbohydrates in her diet was one change Lynn made. Quitting smoking was another. She also started exercising. She said she had known she was not taking care of herself, and noticed a difference when she changed her diet.
“Just getting medication is not the cure for bad eating habits,” Lynn said.
Online: American Heart Asociation