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possibility in anyone presenting in the

ER with chest pain or not feeling well.”

In Sarah’s case, even though

her high blood pressure was under

control, her cholesterol readings were

good, and she wasn’t overweight or

diabetic, she still had a heart attack.

“She didn’t fit any of the

traditional risk factors that would

suggest she could have a heart

attack,” he adds. “Sometimes it just

happens that way. That’s why it is

so important to pay attention to

your body and if you even

suspect it could be a

heart attack, call 911.”



Vega attended the

My Heart’s Content

class, which is an

introduction to the

Cardiac Rehab Program

at ValleyCare. A week following

her heart attack, she was already

enrolled and participating in Cardiac

Rehab. “It’s very reassuring being

monitored while you’re exercising,” she

says. “The staff are so thoughtful and

really help you understand not only

the importance of exercise (and diet),

but also how much you can exercise

and how to build up to it.”

Jed Thompson, exercise

physiologist in ValleyCare’s Cardiac

Rehab, reports that this past year

they have seen five young women

who had heart attacks and ended

up in Cardiac Rehab. “Most of them

were in good shape, raising families

and working,” he says. “With the usual

stress and go-go lifestyles today, some

of them had fatigue as their only

symptom and couldn’t believe they

actually had a heart attack.”



Studies show that

heart attack

symptoms in men

are pretty typical

(pain/pressure in

chest, sweating,

sharp pain in


dizziness). If your dad or

grandfather said “it feels like

an elephant is sitting on my chest,”

chances are you would quickly dial

911 and tell the operator “we think it’s

a heart attack.”

However, if your mom or sister

said, “I’m totally exhausted and

feel queasy,” most likely you would

suggest she take a nap and possibly

an antacid. While women can

experience similar symptoms to

those men experience, most women’s

heart attack symptoms typically are

much more subtle and can mimic

other conditions as well.

Making it even more difficult,

according to a survey by the

American Heart Association, is that

many women are reluctant to call for

emergency medical help even when

they think they might be having a

heart attack.

“This is unfortunate because it

is vital to get immediate help,” adds

Dr. Ng. “Every minute saved could

mean heart muscle that is spared

from damage.” Treatment for heart

attack is most effective the sooner it


Call 911 right away if you suspect,

even a little bit, that you or a loved

one might be having a heart attack.

Paramedics can begin life saving and

heart-muscle saving interventions

while en route to the hospital.

Heart Attack Symptoms

For both men and

women, common signs


pain, pressure,


discomfort in chest

cold sweats

fatigue for no reason

sudden dizziness or


sharp pain in one or

both arms, back,

neck or jaw

shortness of breath

for no reason

nausea or vomiting

These last three

(in bold) are more

common for women.

Women are twice as

likely to vomit or be

nauseated during heart

attack. In addition, they

may also:

have pain or pressure

in lower chest, stomach

or upper abdomen

feel really tired

experience sudden


More than half the

women having a heart

attack report muscle

weakness that’s not

related to exercising.

For some, extreme

breathlessness (also

without exertion) is

the only sign they’re

having a heart

attack. Call 911 if you

experience any of

these symptoms.

—Continued from page 1


At age 39, Sarah didn’t realize she

was having a heart attack.

If you or a

loved one have

experienced a heart

attack, ask your doctor for

a referral to ValleyCare’s

renowned Cardiac Rehab

Program. For more

information visit






| Winter 2015