Last weekend I happened to see a woman on the local news who said she had severe indigestion and was very uncomfortable. She worked at a school so the school nurse took her blood pressure, which was through the roof! She barely avoided dying of a heart attack, yet she had no chest pain.

What struck me about this was that that very day, I also had severe indigestion and fatigue. This is very unusual for me and after seeing the woman on the news, it made me think twice about what was wrong. On Sunday evening, I started having severe chest pain.

Now, nobody wants to feel stupid and think they are having a heart attack, when it is only indigestion! However, I also didn't want to die in my sleep and have people say "Poor Joan, if only she'd gone to the doctor sooner, she'd be alive today."

So, at 10 pm we went to the ER. (Why is it always at night?)

If this happens to you, you can call your doctor but he will tell you to go to the nearest ER and not bother coming in to the office, as time is essential in treatment.

When you go to the ER with chest pains, rest assured, you go RIGHT into the treatment area - in a wheelchair no less. You are immediately hooked up to an EKG, your history is taken and you get blood work. I told them I'd feel really silly if this was only indigestion, but one said to me "At least you'll be alive to feel silly."

Every single nurse, tech and the doctor told me I was wise to come in and get checked out because the symptoms of a woman's heart attack are not the same as men's. Women can have no chest pain and only symptoms like nausea, fatigue or indigestion.

As it turned out, my tests showed I was not having a heart attack but some sort of GI disturbance. The doctor assured me as soon as he talked to me that from what he saw, it didn't look like a heart attack so that eased my mind.

I was lucky but I was also told, if this every happens again, don't assume that because this time it was indigestion, that it is nothing to worry about. Now that they have a normal EKG and blood work on file, it will be easier to tell if something is wrong next time.

Don't ever be afraid to feel silly when it comes to your health or safety. Women often don't like to worry their families or they don't have confidence in their own feelings. If you feel something is wrong, it's better to be safe than have your family be sorry. Plus, as one nurse told me, if you catch heart attacks early, the treatment is easier and much less expensive.

So, get your yearly physicals, with an EKG, and tell your doctor about family history. Exercise at least 3 times a week for your heart, go for walks and try to reduce stress. You'll be glad you did!

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Feb. 24, 2010 at 1:20 PM

Great journal post!

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Mar. 14, 2010 at 6:06 PM

Footnote to this post. My bill was nearly $6,000 and my insurance is denying the claim so perhaps I should have just risked death-lol. I do hope to get the insurance part straightened out soon.

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