Tuesday, February 14

A Lesson of the Heart

by Katherine Matutes, PhD
Did you know that denial is a sign of a heart attack? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, denying that your symptoms could in fact be a heart attack should put others on alert and encourage you to seek medical assistance or call 911. According to survival psychology experts, people
fail in survival strategies because they prefer to normalize dangerous events or conditions. Heart attack victims often delay seeking medical attention, believing instead that they are merely suffering from indigestion or that the symptoms will eventually subside.

Symptoms that are most commonly recognized as signs that someone may be experiencing a heart attack include:
  • Heaviness or pressure like chest pain that may radiate to the left arm or shoulder and up the jaw
  • Back pain and/or deep aching or throbbing in one or both arms
  • Breathlessness or inability to catch your breath
  • Clamminess and sweating
It is important to realize that symptoms may come and go. Symptom severity may differ between individuals. One person may have mild radiating chest pains and another may describe an excruciating, crushing feeling.

Heart attack symptoms that are not as commonly known or recognized include:
  • Dizziness - unexplained lightheadedness, possible blackouts
  • Anxiety - unusual nervousness, feelings of impending doom
  • Edema - fluid retention and swelling usually of the ankles or lower legs
  • Fluttering - rapid heartbeats, palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Denial
These symptoms tend to occur more often in women. Women are more likely to deny a heart attack than men - in part, because women have the false belief that they are less likely to die of a heart attack. The truth is, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both genders in the U.S., with 47.2% of men and 52.8% of women dying annually, says the American Heart Association. Women also take about 30 minutes longer to seek medical assistance.
Celebrate American Heart Month this February by sharing this vital information with those you love and make sure you’re prepared to recognize and act if someone you or someone you know is in denial. You can learn more about heart disease and prevention here.

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