Heart Attack & Women

Coronary heart disease is also a woman’s disease, not a man’s disease in disguise - Bernadine Healy MD, 1991

Heart Attack & Women

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‘I Had No Idea I Was Having a Heart Attack’: For Women, the Signals Often Aren’t Clear


On a sunny day in Bellevue, Wash., in June 2011, I had just completed a workout class when I experienced a bizarre sensation of intense, full-body muscle fatigue. I broke into a bone-chilling sweat. My upper left arm throbbed, a deep ache next to the bone. I was heaving for air at a rapid clip. I grew nauseated. A fist was pressing through my chest to my spine. I was 56 years old, an exercise enthusiast, a nonsmoker and a retired cardiac-care nurse. And yet I had no idea that I was having a heart attack.

It felt nothing like I’d imagined. It turns out that it’s hard to recognize a heart attack as it happens. What I didn’t understand until much later was that a deposit of plaque…

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Last Updated : Wednesday, June 16, 2021