By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Carol Schwartmiller’s heart was in trouble, but she didn’t realize it.

“I guess the first symptom I had was the pain in my arm, which I disregarded, because I had been watching my grandson for four days and he’s 17 pounds,” the MacDonald woman said.

Then she had symptoms of indigestion that did not get better with antacids.

“This went on over several days, and then things got suddenly worse,” she continued.

“Like I was perspiring in the back of my neck and the pain actually got intense and I had a little bit of problem catching my breath,” she described.

Her son wanted her to call an ambulance, but she took a different route. “And I said, I’m not going in an ambulance, and my husband took me to Sewickley Hospital, and I did come in an ambulance to AGH, and ended up in the cath lab at three in the morning and had two stents put in.”

The American Heart Association is concerned about a trend among women calling 911 for heart attack symptoms. A survey shows in 2006, 78 percent would call. Now that’s down to only 50 percent.

“I probably didn’t want the commotion and have the neighbors see an ambulance,” says Scwartzmiller. “I think at that point I wasn’t facing up to the fact that I could be having a heart attack.”

Women may not have the typical crushing chest pain that people associate with a heart attack. They may have shortness of breath, nausea and dizziness.

“When women experience these symptoms, they never think it could be their heart,” Dr. Indu Poornima, a cardiologist at Allegheny General Hospital, said.

The outcomes could be bad if the symptoms aren’t urgently unchecked.

“Heart failure is the biggest consequence, certainly sudden death,” Dr. Poornima listed.

The faster you get treated, the more heart can be saved to keep it pumping properly. Remember, time is muscle.

To get the fastest treatment, women should call 911.

American Heart Association
National Institutes Of Health: Women & Heart Attack

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