It’s a bit scary when a school friend – who’s a few months younger than you – announces they’ve had a heart attack and need triple heart bypass surgery.
It’s a female friend too. I think people are a bit unaware about the high risks for women.
As the Heart Foundation notes:
Nearly 3 times as many women die of heart disease than breast cancer.
In Australia, 90% of women have one risk factor for heart disease, and 50% have two or more.
Heart disease can occur at any age, but the risk increases significantly around menopause.
It is not clear why women tend to get heart disease at a later age than men. However, it is thought that a drop in women’s oestrogen levels, as well as other changes that occur around this time, may be part of the reason.
It’s a sobering reminder that I must get my heart checked. Not only am I around the dreaded “m” stage, but my dad had a massive heart attack a few years ago due to a genetic condition, which I’ve no doubt inherited.
I’ve also had a few scares over the years. I thought my heart was packing it in during the last months of my magazine career. I wore a heart monitor for a day and everything. But it was just palpitations from bullying stress.
My heart started jittering and skittering again during the distress of my marriage separation.
A few months ago, I was sure I was having a heart attack at work when sharp pains developed between my shoulder blades.
It passed in a few minutes and I started scoffing my lunch like nothing had happened.
Currently it just hurts a bit emotionally because life feels so freaking relentless.
But I really need to get that heart health check. And if you’re around my age, you should get one too.
My health has taken a backseat to the medical rollercoaster both my kids are riding.
But it’s important to find time to make sure I’m OK too.
In the meantime, the desire for a healthier lifestyle continues.
I keep catching glimpses of myself in official photos from drinks events, looking old and puffy. I hate it.
I’m trying to be good. I’ve nailed the four or five days a week off booze thing, I’m reducing my sugar and wheat intake and I’ve kicked my scrambled egg and cheese brekkies. I’m down to around one Diet Coke a week and I’ve also cut out garlic, which will be music to DD’s nose.
The garlic thing won’t stop me having a heart attack, but I’ve been wondering if it’s not agreeing with me any more, so I’m testing it out.
Then there are my walks with friends – we’re even planning to do the 7 Bridges Walk – and my tri-weekly Pump classes. I’ve also suggested DD and I revisit our weekend outdoorsy stuff. We used to go bike riding and kayaking, but it’s fallen by the wayside as the demands of work and family have encroached.
Fortunately, my hospitalised friend doesn’t have any heart damage from her attack, but she’s scheduled for surgery on her arteries next week.
Sending her a big, bloggy hug …
Song of the day: Gotye “Heart’s a mess”
Sux when im the yougest of the 5 of us!!!
Just what iv learnt this last week… there was no pain (1-2 on the1-10 scale they ask you about)… no ‘feeling like an elephant sitting on my chest’… no crushing… i just felt ‘weird”… literally was unable to describe WHY i felt i should go to the hospital… i had been driving the child to school & was suddenly sweaty (10 degree morning), i felt like i needed to get home & take my heart burn medication (over the counter zantac), which i did – plus chewed a couple of mylanta tablets as it takes 10 or 15 mins to work… i then put 2 jumpers on as i couldnt get warm, sat under a blanket & chatted to Tracy for an hour (didnt tell her i felt ‘weird’, but she said she knew something was wrong)… the feeling didnt go away… rang another friend who had been planning to call in for coffee… chatted for another half hour… told the teenage boy i was going out, stayed on the phone to the friend whilei drove to the hospital… i was just calling in to get my bp checked on the way to another friends… they took bloods, i had elevated enzymes in my heart, i thought it was just stress, as last week, apart from Kaths stuff was very stressful… taken to another hospital for the angiogram 2 days ago & the driver asked me if my ‘weird’ feeling was like i felt full across my chest… YES… i finally had a description of what it felt like… this started last fri 26th july, & i womt get to go home til at least monday 12th august with the op due for the 6th august…
Thanks for writing this Alana, a sobering reminder of all the things I should be doing as I’m also approaching that ‘M’ phase. I need to have a full health check but of course I keep putting it off. I hope your friend recovers well.x
Oh I’ve just read Megz comment! Thank you for describing all of that Megz, it’s helpful for others to know what a heart attack may feel like and that it doesn’t have to feel like “the elephant on the chest”. I wish you a full and speedy recovery!