arrest this heart

Cardiac distress symptoms in women

In the wake of Carrie Fisher’s death four days after she suffered a massive heart attack, one thing that was reported by some news outlets was that she had been in “significant distress” on the flight. We don’t know the exact details of this, but in my experience as an EMT, it often means “hysterical woman having a panic attack and thinking she’s dying…*woman dies* …oops, guess she really was dying.” 

It is SO IMPORTANT to remember that many women present in what medicine considers an ‘atypical’ manner for heart attack, but it actually IS typical…for women. Women are more than twice as likely to die from cardiac emergencies, not because our physiology is that much different than men and thus gives us a worse chance at survival (it’s actually better if treated promptly and adequately), but because our symptoms are more likely to go unrecognized or to be dismissed entirely.

Thus, please take a moment to review and pass on this list of cardiac distress symptoms as seen in women: 

Shortness of breath - This is the most common one. If a woman, especially one without prior history of respiratory issues or shortness of breath, seems to be having trouble catching her breath and/or complains of such, pay very close attention. If she continues to feel winded after sitting or laying down, it’s probably time to call for help.

Feeling of impending doom - This can range from a sense of general unease to a full-blown panic attack. This one is extremely important, and is the symptom most commonly disregarded by doctors and hospital staff. If a woman tells you that she feels ‘not quite right,’ or like something terrible is about to happen, or that she’s about to die, LISTEN TO HER FFS. 

Nausea and “indigestion” - Also common. Heart attacks frequently present as a feeling of vague nausea or indigestion, but unlike typical heartburn, antacids and other OTC treatments will not alleviate the symptoms.

Hiccups - Unexplained hiccups, especially if seen with any of the other symptoms listed above, can be indicative of heart muscle that is being acutely or chronically starved of oxygen.  The exact mechanism isn’t known, but it’s thought that the enzymes released by the dying muscle irritate the pericardium and adjacent diaphragm, causing spasms in the healthy muscle. 

Fatigue - This is another commonly seen symptom, and is often overlooked or ignored as just transient tiredness. Many women having a heart attack will complain of feeling “flu-like” symptoms of nausea, sweating, fatigue, and shortness of breath, and they’ll lie down for a nap and never wake up. 

Lightheadedness - A feeling of being lightheaded or about to faint isn’t terribly uncommon in many benign conditions, and many women experience it on a monthly basis. However - be aware when it appears unexpectedly or unexplainedly, and/or with one or more of the other symptoms on this list. 

Sweating (diaphoresis) - Heart attack does funny things to the sympathetic nervous system, which is behind reflexes such as sweating and hiccups. If a lady is experiencing unexplained or excessive sweating, pay attention to anything else that might be going on with her. 

Tingling or numb extremities - A feeling of numbness or “pins and needles” tingling in the extremities can be an important sign that cardiac function is being impaired and those body parts aren’t receiving enough oxygen. 

Peripheral and/or central cyanosis - Often accompanies tingling or numbness, and is considered a later-stage symptom of cardiac distress and heart failure. Finger and toe tips will turn pale or blue first, and lips and gums after that. Important to remember that darker-skinned women may present cyanosis as ashen, grey, or darker purple rather than pale or blue. 

Back pain - Pain between the shoulder blades, in the cervical spine, or even further down in the torso or lumbar region can be a symptom of heart attack. Alone, it isn’t that suspicious, but if it’s unrelenting and presents with any of the other symptoms above, keep a watchful eye on things. 

Classic “crushing” or “tight” chest pain or pressure - Women DO experience this classic pain, too, just not as frequently as men do. This may be due to our higher pain threshold, or differences in blood volume, or maybe we’re just not sure because nobody’s bothered to really study it. Whatever the reason, some women do still experience the crushing or tightening pain, and others may experience less painful pressure or tightness that doesn’t seem to be relieved by anything.

Arm and jaw pain - Another “classic” heart attack symptom, and a bit more common than central chest pain. Unexplained pain in the left arm or shoulder, and on the left side of the neck or jaw, should not be ignored by anyone.

8

He never fails to surprise me. Ever since I first saw his skating, it’s been an unending chain of surprises.

Alright, since I finished my homework before midnight, I decided to treat myself by sketching Yoosung… yes. He’s holding a finger gun up. Yes. He’s the type to say “You’re under arrest… For stealing my heart.” 

Super self indulgent doodle…! It just started as a joke about not being able to dig through garbage bins anymore and somehow escalated!! I’m very sorry.

That being said, I can’t bring myself to draw anything past “one sided infatuation”, especially with a self insert… QuQ; I hope no one is really expecting more.

Nanu tried to make a joke but didn’t expect such an awkward response. She has her hands up and ready to be cuffed!! How embarrassing… This is why he just lives with a bunch of Meowth and doesn’t associate with people.

10

One day more…

Les Miserables on Broadway will close on September 4, 2016 (x)

Critical Role + Aesthetic: Modern AU Keyleth (x) (x)

“We’re gonna save ‘em all, you guys. We’re gonna save all the animals!”

Carrie Fisher: Cardiac arrest and heart attack are not the same thing.

So I’m just today hearing about Carrie Fisher and it totally breaks my heart!
I’ve always loved her and it’s very sad to hear about all this happening.
Something that I would like to address however, is maybe the misconception with the information we have?
So I have read a majority of the articles that stated that she had a “heart attack”, which is very vague, and would actually not be so bad if that was the case. However, what happened with Carrie was that she went into cardiac arrest, which can be caused by a heart attack, but is totally different. Cardiac arrest is when a persons heart completely stops beating, which means that Carrie was legitimately dead for how ever long she was down for before they had a return of spontaneous circulation(ROSC). Reports where that CPR was performed on Carrie and ROSC was achieved and that’s why she was transported to an ICU post arrest. So, as I am very sad to say, the outlook is very bleak for Carrie. In the AHA’s 2015 statistics on cardiac arrest, “New report suggests the incidence of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is 326,200. The average survival rate is 10.6% and survival with good neurologic function is 8.3%. Nearly one in three victims survives when the arrest is witnessed by a bystander.” And while this is a low percentage, of course there is potential for her to pull though, but also leaves even less room for good neurological function. Which means that even if she does make it she most likely will not be the same. Also, another aspect that should be addressed is Carries age. She is now significantly old and in older populations the survival rate of post cardiac arrest patients becomes even lower, as the odds would be better in a young, healthy individual who goes into sudden cardiac arrest.
My heart goes out to Carrie Fisher and her family 😔