Alright, listen up. I need all my sisters - Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian, to take heart disease in women seriously. It is no secret that I've had some serious heart issues that resulted from a nasty case of rheumatic fever when I was a child, but I'm now having problems that have absolutely nothing to do with the artificial valve I had put in 13 years ago (Hey Barbara - Use the Pillow)
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of emotional and physical setbacks that have left me with a call from my cardiologist's office checking to see if I was still alive based on the readings from my heart monitor they had me wearing, a prescription for nitroglycerin, an aspirin-a-day regiment, and a heart cath on Tuesday which may result in a stent, a pacemaker, or nothing but more meds (I'm hoping for more meds but pacemaker is sounding like a strong possibility).
I've been pushing along like crazy with a workload that is just too much for me to handle, tiredness that I attributed to being overworked, and "flutterings" that I attributed to stress and continued to take Xanax to relax. With my history, these were all symptoms that I should have paid more attention to, but I wasn't having any pain that I couldn't handle so I let it go. Turns out the "flutterings" are, in my case, the more serious ventricular tachycardia. The extreme tiredness is indicative of decreased heart function, and the increased anxiety and depression too often go hand in hand with congestive heart failure. In short, I'm pretty fortunate that I haven't had a major heart attack. Hopefully, the cath on Tuesday will keep me from having one.
I don't know what Tuesday holds in store for me (except a week off work initially). But if you read this post, I want you to go to the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women page and read some of the stories of women of all ages who have been struck by heart disease. The symptoms in women are so different from those in men so it's very important to listen to your body. If you're having shortness of breath doing activities that used to be considered routine, or "flutterings" or just don't feel right, please, please have it checked out. If you have a doctor that pooh poohs your symptoms go to another one. Take it to heart ladies. If you don't, no one else will.