Straight from the heart . . .

Straight from the heart . . .

Cardiac Rehab: Week Three - WHEW!

It's educational day on Thursdays during cardiac rehab.  This is where you watch videos on heart attacks, high cholesterol, heart health, etc., while you exercise.


One of the things that I learned during these video sessions are the five signs of a heart attack in women.  I knew about most of them, but there was one that didn't register as a symptom at the time.


Quite coincidentally, about four days before my "episode" I was deathly ill with a virus.  The kind of virus that leaves you not knowing which end is up, if you know what I mean.  I also remember, very distinctly, having severe pain between my shoulder blades, sweating profusely and being weak as water.  Not unusual, after all, I had not kept anything in or down for almost a week.  I thought it was just the virus.


After seeing last week's video and doing some more reading, I now believe that during that long weekend of the virus, I was also having symptoms that would have otherwise alerted me to the possibility of a heart attack!  I just didn't realize it because like a lot of women, I thought I just had the flu or something else and kept going.


Since heart attack is the leading cause of death among women, here are the FIVE SIGNS OF A HEART ATTACK that we gals need to know!


Heart Attack Signs in Women*

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  5. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.

If you have any of these signs, don’t wait more than five minutes before calling for help. Call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.


Just check every one of those signs above and that's what happened to me on May 30!  I don't want to ever go through that again for as long as I live.  And, as long as I live, I want to make sure other women know how to take care of themselves to prevent this!


Last week, I also met with the nutrionist at PMC.  Because I grew up in a family very predisposed to heart disease, I had grown up eating very close to a heart healthy diet myself.  Bill and I further changed our eating habits about 10 years ago to include no canned foods (except for canned tomatoes for cooking) and no packaged foods.  Now from time-to-time, those things may slip into our diet but as a rule, they aren't even brought into the house.  When you flip the packages over and see the sodium content, you'll be amazed.


I was encouraged to learn that as far as eating right, we had been doing a lot of right things for a long time.  That may explain the fact that my overall cholesterol (which had historically always been high) was not at the time of my heart attack.  Now that little fact surprised even me!


What was out of whack were the LDL (aka bad cholesterol) and the HDL (aka good cholesterol)!  Like, way out of whack.  I've always had a problem with those numbers.  The nutrionist explained why these numbers led to my heart attack.  Here's how he explained it to me in everyday terms.


Picture your cholesterol as a canoe ... travelling throughout your body taking oxygen, nutrients, etc.   The LDL (bad cholesterol) is the paddle that takes it to the various points in your body while the HDL (good cholesterol) is supposed to take it back to the liver to be broken down or dispelled.  In my case, I had a little too much of the bad and about half of the good that I needed to prevent a blockage.  Basically, I had a big, old clog!


So, ladies (and gents for that matter) what do you do TODAY to make sure you don't face the same fate I did?


Take care of yourself *
Heart disease is preventable. Here are Goldberg’s top tips:

  • Schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to learn your personal risk for heart disease. You can also learn your risk with our Heart Attack Risk Calculator.
  • Quit smoking. Did you know that just one year after you quit, you’ll cut your risk of coronary heart disease by 50 percent?
  • Start an exercise program. Just walking 30 minutes a day can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Modify your family’s diet if needed. Check out these healthy cooking tips. You’ll learn smart substitutions, healthy snacking ideas and better prep methods. For example, with poultry, use the leaner light meat (breasts) instead of the fattier dark meat (legs and thighs), and be sure to remove the skin.


One of the other things I learned in the video was about the DASH diet.  DASH stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" and really, with the health issues in our country, would be a good diet for young and old. Here's a link to more information about the DASH diet:


Now that is not to say that I don't have some of my favorite foods ... I do.  But it is very limited.  I might have one donut a month; if I eat Chinese food again it's like once a month.  If I have a Bo-time craving, it's one piece of fried chicken in a blue moon.  Everything within moderation!  


Hope this information helps you as much as it is helping me.  At age 50 I am certainly one of the youngest people at cardiac rehab and I can tell you I am also one of the MOST grateful to be there!


Ciao for Now!


* Source:  http://www.

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