My Heart Attack-
Every Heart Attack is Different.
-        Readers Share Their True Heart Attack Experiences

"I Had Just Had The Best Day of My Life"

Related Links:
Index of Other Heart Attack Stories
My Heart Attack--"I Thought I Had Asthma"
They Gave My Husband Indigestion Medicine
But He Was Having a Heart Attack"
"I Thought It Was Just Nausea But I Was Having a Heart Attack"
My Heart Attack--"I Had a Silent Heart Attack"
"My Job Drove Me to Have A Heart Attack at Age 37"

The following story was e-mailed to Collective by Janet H. of
Eugene, Oregon:

'I had a completely unexpected heart attack at about 10:30 pm
with NO  prior exertion, NO prior emotional trauma that one would
suspect might've  brought it on. I was sitting all snugly & warm on
a cold evening, with my  purring cat in my lap, reading an  
interesting story my friend had sent me, and actually
thinking,'A-A-h, this is  the life, all cozy and warm in my soft,
cushy Lazy Boy with my feet propped  up.'

A moment later, I felt that awful sensation of indigestion, when
you've  been in a hurry and grrrrrrRRRR!  'After that had seemed
to subside,  the next sensation was like little squeezing motions
that seemed to be   racing up my  SPINE (hind-sight, it was
probably my aorta spasming),  gaining speed as they continued
racing up and under my sternum (breast bone,  where one
presses rhythmically when administering CPR).

This fascinating  process continued on into my throat and
branched out into both jaws.  'AHA!! NOW I stopped puzzling
about  what was happening--we all have read and/or heard about
pain in the jaws being  one of the signals of an MI  happening,
haven't we?  

I said aloud to  myself and the cat, 'Dear God, I think I'm having a
heart attack !' I lowered  the foot rest, dumping the cat from my
lap, started to take a step and fell on  the floor instead. I thought
to myself 'If this is a heart attack, I shouldn't  be walking into the
next room where the phone is or anywhere else.......but,  on the
other hand, if I don't, nobody will know that I need help, and if I  
wait any longer I may not be able to get up in moment.' (Article
Continues Below)

I pulled myself up with the arms of the chair, walked  slowly into
the next room and dialed the Paramedics... I told her I thought I  
was having a heart attack due to the pressure building under the
sternum and  radiating into my jaws. I didn't feel hysterical or
afraid, just stating the  facts. She said she was sending the
Paramedics over immediately, asked if the  front door was near to
me, and if so, to unbolt the door and then lie down on  the floor
where they could see me when they came in.

'I then laid down on the floor as instructed and lost  
consciousness, as I don't remember the medics coming in, their
examination,  lifting me onto a gurney or getting me into their
ambulance, or hearing the  call they made to St. Jude ER on the
way, but I did briefly awaken when we  arrived and saw that the
Cardiologist was already there in his surgical blues  and cap,
helping the medics pull my stretcher out of the ambulance. He
was  bending over me asking questions (probably something like
'Have you taken any  medications?') but I couldn't make my mind
interpret what he was saying, or  form an answer, and nodded off
again, not waking up until the Cardiologist and  partner had
already threaded the teeny angiogram balloon up my femoral
artery  into the aorta and into my heart where they i 'I know it
sounds like all my thinking and actions at home must have  taken
at least 20-30 minutes before calling the Paramedics, but actually
it  took perhaps 4-5 minutes before the call, and both the fire
station and St.  Jude are only minutes away from my home, and
my Cardiologist was already to go  to the OR in his scrubs and get
going on restarting my heart (which had  stopped somewhere
between my arrival and the procedure) and installing the  stents.

'Why have I written all of  this to you with so much detail?
Because I want all of you who are so  important in my life to know
what I learned first hand.'

1. Be aware that something very  different is happening in your
body not the usual men's symptoms but  inexplicable things
happening (until my sternum and jaws got into the act). It  is said
that many more women than men die of their first (and last) MI
because  they didn't know they were having one and commonly
mistake it as indigestion,  take some Maalox or other
anti-heartburn preparation and go to bed, hoping  they'll feel
better in the morning when they wake up....which doesn't
happen.  My female friends, your symptoms might not be exactly
like mine, so I advise  you to call the Paramedics if ANYTHING is
unpleasantly happening that you've  not felt.

Are you a heart attack survivor? Help others by sharing your
story: Send it to or simply
and include your story there.

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What Are the "Classic Symptoms" of a Heart Attack for
Men and Women?

Almost everyone has seen the Hollywood version of a classic
heart attack. We expect to see Fred Sanford (remember
"Sanford & Son?) grabbing his chest, staggering with a
wrenched look on his face, yelling "It's the Big One!"

But, it turns out, what a heart attack looks like to others, and
feels like to you, may be very different.

Here are the symptons the American Heart Association says
you should look out for:

Heart Attack Warning Signs
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense — the "movie
heart attack," where no one doubts what's happening. But
most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort.
Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too
long before getting help. Here are signs that can mean a
heart attack is happening:
  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort
    in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few
    minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel
    like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms
    can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the
    back, neck, jaw or stomach.    
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.  
    Other signs may include breaking out in a cold sweat,
    nausea or lightheadedness   

As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is
chest pain or discomfort.
But women are somewhat more
likely than men to experience some of the other common
symptoms, particularly shortness of breath,
nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.
Learn the signs, but remember this: Even if you're not sure it's
a heart attack, have it checked out. Minutes matter! Fast
action can save lives — maybe your own. Don’t wait more
than five minutes to call 9-1-1.
Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to get lifesaving
treatment. Emergency medical services staff can begin
treatment when they arrive — up to an hour sooner than if
someone gets to the hospital by car. The staff are also trained
to revive someone whose heart has stopped. Patients with
chest pain who arrive by ambulance usually receive faster
treatment at the hospital, too.
If you can't access the emergency medical services (EMS),
have someone drive you to the hospital right away. If you're
the one having symptoms, don't drive yourself, unless you
have absolutely no other option.
Source: American Heart Association

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