Heart Diseases and Cardiac Arrest in Women
Would you know what to do in case of a cardiac event?
Heart diseases still stand tall as the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Usually, because of poor or late diagnosis and choices of treatment, heart diseases are not effectively managed in India. The warning signs may vary person to person. While men experience chest pain and discomfort as major warning signs, women experience certain other symptoms that are not related to heart. Thus, in many cases, heart diseases in women remain undetected until it is too late.
Warning signs of heart problems in women:
Here we are going to discuss all the warning signs of heart diseases that are very subtle and misleading:
- Many women experience fatigue and assume it to be arising from multitasking around day-to-day chores, work outside home, caring for aging parents and kids. However, changes in energy levels are a considerable warning if experienced around-
- A regular exercise routine
- Unexplained fatigue with heaviness in chest even without exertion
- Simple task of making a bed can leave you gasping for breath or excessively tired
- Sleep and breathing disturbances – Breathlessness and shortness of breath that worsens when lying down but improves once propped up with extra pillows.
- Sudden sweating without exertion.
- Pain in the back, arms or lower side of the jaw.
- Women may experience pain in either arms, unlike left arm in many men
- Pain may present immediately after slight exertion
- Waking from sleep due to pain
- Digestive symptoms: Acidity, nausea, vomiting, and or stomach pain.
These experiences may be felt even weeks before a heart attack. There are chances of silent attacks without any signs.
When to see a cardiologist:
See a cardiologist if you present any of the above symptoms. Your doctor will need details of all signs, their severity, and duration. Do not forget to mention any day-to-day stress and family history of heart diseases, if any.
Cardiac arrest, one of the major heart event in women, is a sudden halt in the heart beats. The first organ to be affected after cardiac arrest is the brain. If there is no basic life support given to the patient, there is high risk of person being announced as brain dead in just 2-3 minutes.
Emergency actions for cardiac arrest:
Mostly, there are no visible symptoms or signs that a patient notices before a cardiac arrest. As soon as the heart completely stops to work, the person loses consciousness and collapses. The person may breath abnormally or stop breathing entirely. There is hardly anything a patient can do to gather help. The chances of survival with treatment is only 8%. For this reason, cardiac arrest is also known as sudden cardiac death.
So, as a bystander to patient who has just collapsed, one must ensure to –
1. Call for emergency – 105910 Yashoda 24hours Emergency.
2. Check for pulse. If there is no pulse, start CardioPulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) right away.
3. Look for Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and use it immediately.
4. Followed by early advanced care and post-resuscitation at hospital.
Women have higher chances of recovering from cardiac arrest, provided immediate CPR and defibrillator assistance is given. Doctors cannot revive a cardiac arrest patient without these early basic life care.
Risk factors of cardiac arrest:
A person is more prone to cardiac arrest with:
- History of heart disease – irregular heart beat, heart attack, heart deformity compromising function.
- Trauma – bleeding, overdose, drowning or pulmonary embolism
- Very rarely, pregnancy (high-risk pregnancies)
- Poor lifestyle – Lack of exercise, smoking, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure
Stress related cardiac arrest has been noted to occur just outside the hospitals. Cardiac arrest may occur anywhere without notice. Heart patients who are traveling are advised to have a AED handy in their luggage or work bag. If you do not have one, do ensure you can access one from a public facility.
Red flags of heart disease:
In case you suspect the symptoms are indicating a heart event, call for emergency immediately – 105910 Yashoda 24hours Emergency. The red flags to look for include –
- Lack of consciousness, patient does not respond to voice or touch
- Pain or discomfort in chest, arms, back, left shoulder, jaw or stomach
- Difficulty in breathing
- Cold sweat
- Choking or feeling full or heart burn
- Light headedness, extreme weakness
- Heart is erratically beating.
Leading cardiologists, Yashoda Heart Institute, Hyderabad to address symptoms and major heart events. Feel free to talk to our experts.
- Heart Attack Symptoms in Women. Accessed online on 28-02-2018 from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/WarningSignsofaHeartAttack/Heart-Attack-Symptoms-in-Women_UCM_436448_Article.jsp
- Women: Don’t Ignore These 3 Subtle Heart Attack Symptoms. Accessed online on 28-02-2018 from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/03/women-dont-ignore-3-subtle-heart-attack-symptoms/
- Cardiac Arrest – would you know what to do?. Accessed online on 28-02-2018 from https://firstaidforlife.org.uk/cardiac-arrest-would-you-know-what-to-do/