Saving Women, One at a Time
Little did I know, I would grow up to save people too. I carry a stethoscope instead of a gun, listen to stories of death defying acts and try to keep some lipstick on in the midst of crisis.
Recently I went to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) ‘’Go Red for Women” luncheon and heard a story that is all too familiar. The speaker described an experience of having a heart attack; she went to the hospital several times with crushing chest pain and was told she had anxiety. When the pain became so severe that she could not walk, she was too embarrassed to tell anyone because she thought she was crazy and hysterical. Finally, a friend took her back to the hospital where she had a heart catherization confirming a myocardial infarction (MI). No one believed her because she was too young and didn’t have the picture-perfect risk factors. She watched her mother die of a heart attack and was passionate about making a difference. Her presentation made me rethink our position on how we care for women.
I have worked in critical care for nearly 33 years and have seen a lot of change. There are better tests to determine ischemic changes. Additionally, chest pain centers, along with the AHA, are making providers aware of how to appropriately treat chest pain. Hearing nightmare stories like this one leads us to pay attention and remember that women are different than men. Women have vague symptoms at times; they feel guilty for bothering anyone; and they take care of others oftentimes neglecting their own health. They often attribute their symptoms to menopause or anxiety. I don’t want to be part of the problem by not listening.
Shawnee Mission Medical Center (SMMC) has been a designated Chest Pain Center for more than 20 years. We continually screen patients, educate the community on risk factors and treat patients with heart disease.
Our goal is to spread the word and help fight the number one and three causes of death; heart disease and stroke. If you haven’t taken our free, online HEARTaware assessment, I encourage you to do so. It only takes seven minutes and could truly save your life. I may not have perfect hair at the end of the day, but if we can save more lives by screenings and programs, we as a team can be heroes too. Click here to take our free HEARTaware assessment today.
Or for more information about the Shawnee Mission Heart & Vascular Center, call the ASK-A-NURSE Resource Center at 913-676-7777.