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Heart and Vascular

Mercy Stories: Knowing the Signs of a Heart Attack

Jul 26 2018
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Knowing these signs can potentially save your life

After 40 years of caring for others with heart disease, Brenda Milam herself experienced repeated shortness of breath and chest pain. She knew these were symptoms that women frequently ignore or misinterpret. Although Brenda’s heart attack happened 12 years ago, she remembers it like it was yesterday.

“Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, causing one in three deaths each year,” says Brenda Milam, Nurse Manager at the Lourdes Cardiovascular Institute. “That’s approximately one woman every minute. Chest pain is the most common heart attack symptom, but some women may experience it differently than men.”

Other symptoms can include pain in the arm, back, neck or jaw, stomach pain, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, sweating or fatigue. But many women often chalk up their symptoms to less life-threatening conditions such as acid reflux, the flu or normal aging.

“Women are so busy taking care of everyone else in their families, that we often ignore our own symptoms,” Brenda said. “My best advice is to know your numbers, know your cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and your weight. If you see any of those changing, contact your primary care physician.”

Brenda said she can’t stress the importance of seeing your primary care provider on a regular basis enough, whereas most people wait until they suspect a problem.

“The number one goal in primary care is prevention and if we can help minimize risk factors then we are likely to decrease the risk of ever having a cardiovascular event,” says Dr. Marissa Stewart-Jaynes, Mercy Primary Care – Reidland.  “It is so important to have a provider who can help you navigate specialty appointments and referrals as well as manage any complications arising after someone has suffered from a cardiovascular event.”

Studies show that 80% of cardiovascular disease can be prevented. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, or if you think you may be at risk for heart disease, talk to your primary care provider or learn more at mercy.com today.


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