Women's Heart Health

3-1-06 - According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer among women, but doctors say knowing the specific signs of a woman's heart attack can mean life or death. For 46-year-old Annie Rushing of Marshall County, it was getting to the heart of the matter that saved her life.

Annie Rushing works at a hospital in Denton, Texas and even with all of her knowledge it was a report Channel 12 aired one year ago on Women's Heart Health that saved her life.

Wilson N Jones Cardiologist Dr. Michael Isaac says, "The chance of dying from a heart attack in a woman is much higher because it's either misdiagnosed or misrepresented by the patient."

A heart attack can happen to anyone at anytime; in fact 10 to 15 percent of all heart attacks occur in women ages 45 to 65. Rushing says, "I started getting some heart pain and some chest pain. I got progressively worse but I had just made the decision I'd wait, cause I was only 45 years old but I didn't think I was old enough to have a heart attack."

In most cases like Annie's, the symptoms are not at all like what you see on television. Rushing says, "I thought I had indigestion; I thought I had the flu. I thought there's no way I'm having a heart attack so take a Nexium or a Pepcid."

Dr. Isaac says, "They don't have that crushing chest pain you see on TV. Gasp and fall to the ground is more of a sudden death thing and it is a rare presentation of heart attack. You don't typically present with chest pain that goes down the arm all the time. It’s a more atypical presentation."

The common symptoms women experience are shortness of breath, fatigue, indigestion, cold sweats, and chest pain. Rushing learned of these symptoms from the broadcast and then turned to her husband and said, "This is what’s happening to me right now, and ten minutes later, I had my first heart attack."

Now two heart attacks and one year later, Annie wants other women to know that early detection is the key to your heart. Cardiologists say they treat Texoma women for heart attacks just as many times as men if not more. The best defense is to get screening done annually.