*An EMT's experience with Heart Attacks* Please read.

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by RedHeadEMT, Jan 15, 2007.

  1. RedHeadEMT

    RedHeadEMT New Member

    Every year the American Heart Association sits down and using their fancy statistics, come up with a list of "most common" possible symptoms that people may experience in the event of a heart attack or stroke. I think that everyone should know the symptoms that most people think are associated with MIs (myocardial infarctions aka heart attacks) and CVAs (Cerebrovascular Accidents aka strokes.

    My problems lies with the AHA's publication (you can see the full pub on StormySkye's thread entitled "Symptoms you should never ignore").

    I think that they are coming up with symptoms that are LATE stage and often observed in an ER setting, after hours of EARLY warning symptoms that are observed in the field (on an ambulance or in that patient's home, for example). THOSE are the symptoms that I think people would know about...read on if you're interested.

    The scary thing is that those sympmtoms of an MI that the AHA publishes, are just text book and pretty much only that.

    My experience on an ambulance and in an emergency room has shown and taught me that for the most part, with women, there are little to no symptoms and the symptoms that the American Heart Association continually publish OVER AND OVER AGAIN are ANNOYING and lead people to disregard OTHER more common and earlier symptoms that they may have ignored as they begin having a cardiac episode.

    In my experience (and I've talked with coworkers and other RNs/paramedics/docs/friends and they ALL agree), for women, the single MOST COMMON what we call a "chief complaint" or what sends them to the ER, OF A HEART ATTACK IS:

    "I am so tired and run down that I cannot think and man, MY BACK HURTS."

    For men, the single most common compaint that ends up being an MI is "I have the worst indigestion of my life and it's so bad that I can't sleep."

    I guess that my beef is with the AHA itself. I'm tired of these textbook symptoms. Why doesn't the AMA ask EMS workers what we have found to be the most common symptoms?? Or what about asking surviving MI patients??

    I think that this would provide a much more useful and accurate picture of how one may feel when one is experiencing a heart attack. I think that those of us out in the front lines know more than some stuffy docs who sit around in a boardroom, trying to remember what it was like out there in the first place.

    I think something that the AHA always fails to mention that DRIVES ME CRAZY is THIS:

    -that you need to go to the ER the moment you feel OFF, strange, like something is not right. For some people, these AHA symptoms are symptoms of their musculoskeletal probs, not MI related. What women need to remember is:

    Listen to your instincts!

    Don't ignore your body if all of a sudden you begin to experience something NEW, something that NAGS at the back of your mind.

    Lastly, DO NOT brush off that feeling if it lasts more than a few moments.

    Sorry for the rant, everyone!!!! I feel better though now that I have said my piece..hehe...If anyone has had a heart attack and wants to add their piece, I would LOVE to hear it, even if you don't agree with me at all!

    Gentle hugs all around...


    [This Message was Edited on 01/15/2007]
  2. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    Amen, Hallelujah, and pass the ammunition!!!! What a great thread and thank you so much for posting it.

    I could not agree more with you. One of the biggest problems in this county is the way women have been and still are treated as second class citizens, hypochrondriacs, and just simple complainers when it come to heart disease (among many) has been and is an outrage.

    It is -- I might add one of my biggest pet peeves and believe me that is such a long list...

    The symptoms between men and women differ greatly and for some unknown and ignornant reason physicians are still (in this day and age) ignoring the obvious...aaarrrggghhh

    I am still amazed that so many physicians will simply pat a women on the head and chalk every symptom up to anxiety, PMS, what-have-you, and simply write it off and then so many women in this country nay this world die needlessly.

    I say it is time for women to states the facts to these "physicians" (not all are this way thank goodness) in the ERs "If you do not take me seriously you will be hearing from my lawyer that may help or not but at least it is worth a try isn't it?

    OK I am done for the moment. Sorry I got a little fired up didn't I?

    Take care,

    Karen :)
  3. lillyrose33

    lillyrose33 New Member

    I only have one thing to say is that my sister in law which was in her early 40's went to the doctor complaining of her back hurting...they gave her muscle relaxers and pain pills and set her up for a MRI...thinking she has a herniated disc but two days later she died with a heart attack. I don't know why they did not do more extenisve test on her but the family was shocked when this happen.
    Thank you for your information, maybe it will save someone's life.
  4. RedHeadEMT

    RedHeadEMT New Member


    My God, love. What a terrible thing that happened to your family. When I read what you wrote, I got chills up my spine because I have heard that story too many times before and there is simply NO EXCUSE for poor medical practice.

    These are HUMAN BEINGS that we are "working on" for God's sake! Not lab rats or cadavers! When will medical professionals stop treating women as a nuisance and begin treating them as if they were treating their own sisters or mothers? I think that things will never change until this happens. When will it? Let's pray soon.

    gentle xoxo,

  5. RedHeadEMT

    RedHeadEMT New Member

    Karen, thanks for adding your two-sense! I thought it was great. You are absolutely right when you say that women and men DO NOT get equal treatment or care when it comes to medicine and it breaks my heart. A simple way thing that shows this is the amount of research and money that goes into men's causes and health issues. 'Nuff said.

    One of the main reasons why I am slowly trying to work my way into medical school is precisely for this reason and because I truly believe that people with chronic pain are severely undertreated in the US. I will be PROPERLY treating patients on my own if it kills me.
  6. kjfms

    kjfms Member

    I wish you the best of luck with med school -- if I were younger (45) I would do it my self but I am not much of a people person -- more of a behind the scenes.

    I guess that is why I like medical information and especially medical coding but I am not sure I will every get to return to now with the way I am getting more ill with this pituitary macroadenoma and and my mind isn't great at the moment.

    I have not completely given up hope though :)

    Anyway -- you will do great!! I am cheering you on.

    This is the very reason I have always chosen women physicians when I can...

    Take care,

    Karen :)
    [This Message was Edited on 01/15/2007]
  7. emttoni

    emttoni New Member

    As a former EMT myself, I have so many different symptoms for an MI that I really was surprised that is could have such different symptoms in different people.

    Women were always the ones tho that were not "by the book" and seemed to always catch us unaware because we were always listening to the symptoms instead of at teh symptoms. Know what I mean?

    But live and learn. After realizing the differences are there, we were taught valuable lessons and saved many.

    Also, when DH woke one night with severe jaw pain I called EMS and he got upset saying it was just a toothache but it wasnt! I told him it was one of the signs of an MI and he didnt believe me until the ER dr. told him too!

    Thanks for posting this!

  8. CanBrit

    CanBrit Member

    My daughter and father, both in the medical profession, have always tried to get out symptom information to their respective patients on MI's and strokes.

    Too many people die, or suffer severe repercussions, from either a lack of knowledge or ignoring or second guessing symptoms. Posts like yours can save many lives.

    All the best,

  9. stillfighting

    stillfighting New Member

    When you have a disorder like FMS, it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between heart symptoms and a pain flare. But this means you have to be especially aware of what is "normal" for you.

    A good example is the jaw pain. I have had TMJ since I was a teenager, and it always acts up this time of year or after I go to the dentist. So unless it is happening at an unusual time, I really can't use jaw pain as an indicator for heart problems. But if the jaw pain is of a different quality than the TMJ pain, I'll know to call 911!


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