February… National Heart Month!
Posted on February 2, 2015
Even though Valentine’s Day has come and gone, it is still National Heart Month. Most of the sugary sweets have been consumed or at least put away for a later date, the roses are starting to wilt, and our focus on Love has turned elsewhere. While all of this is fun and playful, I want to focus on more serious issues of the heart.
Nearly a decade ago, around this time of year, I had a patient come in for acupuncture that was complaining of chest congestion, not being able to catch her breath and her chest just felt tight. She seemed to think she was having some sort of asthma onset in her 60s. She told me she had not had a lot of appetite and that she had been experiencing pain (something like heartburn) when she did eat or at least mild nausea. This had been going on for nearly a week. She had no signs of a cold or fever, and repeatedly said this was different than anything she had experienced before. She reported that her emotions seemed to be getting the better of her and that her neck and shoulders had a lot of tension.
I felt her pulse, as I do with all of my patients, and the texture was concerning to me along with the symptoms she had mentioned. “Why?” you may ask. Women do not exhibit the same symptoms of heart attack that men do. It became clear to me that she had either had a mild heart attack and did not yet know or she was likely to soon.
I used a couple of acupuncture points to calm her emotions and started asking her questions like “Do you have a relationship with a cardiologist?” Which she did. As calmly as I could, I told her that I did not want to scare her, but that I was concerned for her and that I thought she should put a call in to him immediately. Which she did.
I am grateful to say, that 2 weeks later she hugged my neck and repeatedly thanked me for saving her life. It turns out that a couple of hours after she had come in to see me, her cardiologist saw her and sent her directly to the hospital for heart surgery. I don’t feel that I can really take claim to saving her life, that was in the hands of surgeons… but her doctors and she believed that had I not known the symptoms of a heart attack, the way they show up in women – she may have never called the cardiologist in the first place, or made it through the night.
You don’t have to have a degree in medicine or be in a health care field to be able to save someone’s life. Know the signs of heart attack in both Men and Women!
The following is a link for the American Heart Association website, particularly the page that lists the symptoms associated with heart attacks in women. Educate yourself, you may be a hero one day because you did!