March 8, 2016

"I would tell you to trust your instincts — except in this case my instinct was to chalk up my symptoms to something else..."

"... and to worry about whether the doctors and nurses would think I was crazy. So I’ll say don’t trust your instincts, if your instincts are to wait and see what happens. When you just don’t feel right, don’t ignore it. Fredi says that 9 out of 10 women with my symptoms would not have gone to the hospital. I wouldn’t have gone either, if it weren’t for Tim. Many women have no chest pain, no tightness, no pain in the arm or jaw until it is much too late. Many women suffering a heart attack simply 'don’t feel right,' just as I did. So if that happens, don’t ignore the feeling and don’t worry about someone thinking you’re crazy...."

From "She thought it was only a 24-hour bug. What she really had almost killed her."

39 comments:

tim in vermont said...

Here's a raging problem, women who won't go to the doctor! That's why nursing homes are full of men who have survived their spouses! More money to this! Stat!

campy said...

Thread won @7:18 AM.

Curious George said...

On this International Women's Day it's comforting to know that they too can have it all.

rhhardin said...

It's a question of how much of your life you want to spend in doctors' offices.

Guys opt for zero.

Henry said...

A headline like that deserves a slide show.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Many women have no chest pain, no tightness, no pain in the arm or jaw until it is much too late.

Tim already covered this in general, but more specifically, isn't it much too late for many of the men suffering those symptoms? Is there any evidence that those symptoms show up earlier in men than in women?

Larry J said...

Some women believe the myth that only men get heart attacks. If only that were true. My sister had a heart attack in her late 50s. Her symptoms were quite different than the classic ones that men experience. She felt pain in her back and neck. She survived. My wife - a retired nurse - recently had a scare with those symptoms. The did a full workup at the ER and her heart is fine. It turns out she had gall stones. Following the surgery to remove her gall bladder three weeks ago, she's doing fine.

traditionalguy said...

Great article to post, Dear Professor. Where else but Althouse do we get such a good education.

She experienced the classic "widowmaker" blood clot. That is not the same as heart blockage disease from cholesterol that we are trained to fear.

And she arrived in a cardiac operating room staffed with a Super Cardiologist who rushed her into a Operating room where he could find and suck out the blood clot with a Cardioscopy, just in time, when minutes counted.

Tip: Live close to a big Hospital with a good Cardiology staff. Mine was Emory in Atlanta, and she described my experience with the names changed.

Laslo Spatula said...

I was having sex with a woman who suddenly thought she was having a heart attack.

I told her it was OK, she was just having an Orgasm.

She said "Really?"

I replied "Yes, just relax."

Long story short, it turned out it WAS a heart attack.

I am Laslo.

coupe said...

In the modern day, you no longer have to go to an emergency room.

We have an emergency clinic nearby. I usually go there first, as it is hard to get an appointment with my doctor.

I've found they are usually staffed by Physicians Assistants (PA's). But I've found PA's to be just the right temperament for me. There's usually no waiting.

Plus, they only charge regular co-pay, not the emergency room co-pay of $200.

So, for $30, it's cheap.

MadisonMan said...

This would be a better International Women's Day story if the cardiologist had been female. As it is, just another man rescuing a woman.

Patriarchy!

Carol said...

Unfortunately, "just doesn't feel right" is a little too vague to be helpful. I went to ER a couple times already, because I just didn't feel right. Felt kinda stupid after. Staff here aren't really expecting people who just don't feel right.

Martha said...

Silent heart attacks can happen to men too. My 58 year old brother's widow maker LAD coronary artery occlusion was discovered only after the damaged left ventricle started throwing off clots to his brain resulting in a series of small strokes. The first clot to the occipital lobe of the brain caused partial loss of vision but was chalked up to progressing glaucoma by the ophthalmologist. When he suddenly lost the ability to speak and move his right side, he was rushed to the hospital. He had had a massive heart attack at least 2 weeks before and it was too late and he was too fragile for intervention. He was put on anticoagulants. He is now in Rehab and his stroke symptoms are resolving.

CStanley said...

Sheesh, I must have missed the part where the article's author called for more taxpayer funded research. It read to me like a prompt for women to take some advice about a serious health concern.

That said, I do think more research is needed- but it should include general research into prevention of heart disease (see the link under that article to a related one about calcium scans) and a diversion of the current obsessive fundraising for breast cancer to this other important women's health issue.

Curious George said...

"CStanley said...
That said, I do think more research is needed- but it should include general research into prevention of heart disease (see the link under that article to a related one about calcium scans) and a diversion of the current obsessive fundraising for breast cancer to this other important women's health issue."

Maybe the NFL can wear teal in September.

traditionalguy said...

NB: Don't waste time going to a general practitioner/shopping center clinic first. They will only have to arrange to transfer you.

Instead go by Emergency Fire Dept transport directly to Big Hopspital. Because if it is the blood clot, you will only get an hour at the most, and after that even with a trained Cardiologist, they will have to work fast to revive a flat lining body.

madAsHell said...

Guys opt for zero.

The leading factor for men avoiding the clinic......the damn prostate exam. Not even a reach-around.

coupe said...

traditionalguy said...Don't waste time going to a general practitioner/shopping center clinic first. They will only have to arrange to transfer you.

Rule 7: If you can walk, you don't need an ambulance.
Rule 8: If you need an ambulance, blow your wad and ask for the heart hospital.

YoungHegelian said...

@madAsHell,

The leading factor for men avoiding the clinic......the damn prostate exam.

The exam's okay s long as someone buys me flowers & I get kissed before.

Titus said...

"The exam's okay s long as someone buys me flowers & I get kissed before."

My doctor says some of his gay patients say that to him regarding their prostate exam.

traditionalguy said...

Best Practice: The advantage of calling for the Emergency Fire Dept guys is they storm into your house and take charge, slap a blood thinner patch on your chest, and start the Mobile EKG wifi'ing it ahead to the Hospital, all on the way to the nearest hospital, or a Medevac Helo pad, blowing through the red lights and the traffic.

Larry J said...

traditionalguy said...

Tip: Live close to a big Hospital with a good Cardiology staff. Mine was Emory in Atlanta, and she described my experience with the names changed.


A former student of mine from long ago is an Assistant Professor of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery at Emory's medical school. I was a temporary teacher of his back in 1984. While I'm terrible at names, I always remember his because he was such an exceptional young man. Fifteen isn't a particularly bright age for most boys but he was the kind of student that made me bring my top game to the classroom every day. From time to time, I'd wonder how he turned out. I did a search on his name about 10 years ago and found that he'd done very well, indeed. I wish I could claim some credit for his success but that really isn't the case. His parents did an outstanding job long before we ever met. I'd have no trouble seeking his services for myself or any member of my family.

Theranter said...

Question for the M.D. Althousians's:
Reading the comments on the linked article recounting similar stories--many in which the person didn't make it, made me wonder how they knew after death that a heart event was the culprit. Autopsy? Then reading about the tests, and the comment above re diverting breast cancer $ to heart disease, and recalling that part of my breast cancer chemo cocktail involved a drug that could cause severe heart damage, and thus cardiac ultrasounds (echos?) every 3-6 months during treatment, made me wonder about Justice Scalia--in lieu of an autopsy, if a cardiac event was the called cause of death, why couldn't they have done an echo or some such non-invasive procedure to confirm it? Would a blown artery (or clot, or whatever) still still show on an image of a non-beating heart?

Re the "just not feeling right," it's a tough one--your gut tells you to ignore it and that you'll probably feel ridiculous telling your Dr. that, but in my case I finally did and It was breast cancer. I had my 5th annual mammogram several months prior to DX, and I specifically mentioned a lump that was concerning, and general fatigue, which was not my style. Results were normal. As weeks went on, when I would pull in the driveway from a job I loved, I would literally sit in the car and cry--I was too exhausted to get out and walk in the house. A few weeks later, I was leaning down to turn on the shower and I happened to glance over at a mirror behind the faucet, and there was a huge lump sticking out in the area I had mentioned at the mammogram. Called Dr., within a week had a sonogram, Radiologist was pretty certain based on the image alone it was cancer. The rest is history and thankfully I'm here to recount it!

Since heart disease and breast cancer are leading causes of death in women, maybe a cost-containing trade off would be cardiac tests one year, mammogram the next?

traditionalguy said...

A good Lump to find sticking out is the new item implanted to extend life expectancy of men and women with heart disease 10+ years. It is a small Combination electrical Pace Maker/Defibrillator wired into to the heart. It has a 6 year battery life. Mine has never gone off.

Bionic Man is the new sexy look.

Jim Gust said...

I woke up "just not feeling right" when I was 14. Turned out I had appendicitis.

Birches said...

Why does every article have to start like that these days. I won't read out of spite.

EDH said...

Shouldn't this be called the "widow...er maker?

Sammy Finkelman said...

Supreme Court Justice Antonin scalia went to the doctor and was told he had torn hs rotater cuff, and he took an MRI the next day and there was no change in the diagnosis.

Was that the whole story?

Sammy Finkelman said...

Torn his rotater cuff for the second time. He told a friend that was probably it for him for tennis, and that the world of tennis had lost a great competitor. Was there another problem, and the doctor distracted by the rotater cuff? He had been on commercial airplane flights for a book tour ( aknown heart attack risk factor)

Then he got on aplane again, to Texas, and died overnight. Bit was it a differnt kind of flight. Commercial planes are pressurized to 8,000 feet and legs are cramped.

Sammy Finkelman said...

traditionalguy said...3/8/16, 11:17 AM

...the new item implanted to extend life expectancy of men and women with heart disease 10+ years. It is a small Combination electrical Pace Maker/Defibrillator wired into to the heart. It has a 6 year battery life.

It continues working for 4 years after the battery wears out?

Or is this a statistic that actually makes no sense?

Sammy Finkelman said...

Talking about bionic men, do you know that Rush Limbaugh is the world's first bionic talk radio show host?

tim in vermont said...

It continues working for 4 years after the battery wears out?

Or is this a statistic that actually makes no sense?



You replace the batteries when they run out.

traditionalguy said...

Thanks Tim. Another incident is that when working on you they will lay a magnetic shield on it so it will not go off.The thing sounds a tone confirming it is off until the shield is removed. And holding an iPad battery on your chest does the same trick. That worried me until
It was explained.

Sammy Finkelman said...

tim in vermont said...3/8/16, 12:22 PM

You replace the batteries when they run out.

I think I heard of something like that, maybe. You can replace the battery even though it's implanted? And then before the second battery runs out, you replace he device, or that's what the plan is?

Sammy Finkelman said...

coupe said...3/8/16, 7:56 AM

In the modern day, you no longer have to go to an emergency room.

We have an emergency clinic nearby. I usually go there first, as it is hard to get an appointment with my doctor.


I think that's called an "Urgent Care Center" or it is around here. Long hours, but not 24-7. More of them are opening up.

I've found they are usually staffed by Physicians Assistants (PA's).

As far I know, doctors, in fact many of them.

Birches said...

My grandpa had a pacemaker put in in his early seventies. He lived so long they replaced the batteries twice. He died at 96.

Eric said...

I suspect ER docs really hate these kinds of articles. "I don't feel right"? What's a doctor supposed to do with a complaint like that? Where should he start looking?

Eric said...

Silent heart attacks can happen to men too.

Yeah, my dad had a heart attack at age 50. No pain, just some blurred vision. They did a resting EKG and sent him home with a prescription for Valium. The damage wasn't discovered for another thirteen years when he did his first cardiac stress test.

mikeyes said...

Sammy,

The battery is just under the skin while the electrode is implanted. The battery change is fairly easy, getting a broken electrode out is a little more complex.