There are some stories I don’t like to read. A story about a healthy, active, fit 41-year-old women with no family history of heart disease having a heart attack is one of them. When you make it a point to eat right and exercise regularly, you like to think that you are dodging those sorts of bullets. Well, you are, for the most part. Lifestyle habits like eating a poor-quality diet, being sedentary, smoking, carrying too many extra pounds and not having healthy ways to reduce stress all increase risk of heart attack. Sadly, risk reduction is not an iron-clad guarantee.
The story rattled me a bit, but I rebounded quickly. (My trick is to remind myself that I could get hit by a bus tomorrow…another freak occurrence that I don’t really expect to happen.)
So, I would like to remind people that while there are a million good reasons to live a healthy, active, nutritious live, it’s important to know the signs of a heart attack. If you ever think you, or someone is with, might be having a heart attack, don’t ever think “Oh, this can’t be happening.” Even if the person is too healthy, too young, or too whatever to be having a heart attack. Better safe than sorry. Always treat a possible heart attack as a medical emergency. If it really is a heart attack, the sooner treatment begins, the better the outcome is likely to be.
I first read the story of Kristen Plastino-Arnold on the American Heart Association website. Frustrated that the article said that she needed four coronary stents but didn’t say precisely why, I did a little Google search and found this San Antonio Magazine article, which specifically said that one of her coronary arteries had torn, which resulted in loss of blood flow and oxygen to the front of her heart. So, yes, a freak occurrence that is not lifestyle-related.
Hmmm…it’s also interesting that the AHA article didn’t mention that she drove her son home while having heart attack symptoms because she could not believe it was happening to her. She admitted later that it was a stupid thing to do. We humans do like to think we’re invincible, don’t we?
Plastino-Arnold had the “typical” heart attack symptoms of crushing chest pain that radiated to her left arm. It’s important to note that women are more likely than men to not experience these symptoms. Here’s some info from the AHA on warning signs of a heart attack, as well as more information on heart attack symptoms in women.