Posting in her trademark prose-style, Rosie O'Donnell told her blog followers Monday that she'd had a heart attack. The first symptoms began a few hours after coming to the aid of a heavy-set citizen who needed assistance getting out of her car. The former talk show host relayed her experience on her blog, giving details about the type of pain and symptoms she experienced. She writes, "Later my body hurt, i had an ache in my chest, both my arms were sore, everything felt bruised." Shortly after the initial onslaught of muscular pain, O'Donnell says she became nauseous and threw up. Unknown to her at the time, O'Donnell was lucky to be alive with a 99 percent blood flow blockage in her heart. Surgeons used heart stents to open the blocked valves and give the actress a good prognosis.
Do you know the signs?
According to the American Heart Assocation, heart attack symptoms in women do not manifest according to what you see in movies. Nieca Goldberg, M.D. says that women rarely experience the kind of chest pressure that men do. "Instead they may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue."
So what should you look for? The AHA gives this punch list for women:
- Shortness of breath
- Pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw or abdomen
- Radiating pressure in the chest that comes and goes
- Cold sweats
- Nausea or vomiting
It is important that you contact 911 no later than five minutes after the appearance of these symptoms. Waiting overnight, like Rosie O'Donnell and thousands of others do, could cost you your life.
Prevent heart disease by quitting smoking, walking daily and eating lean foods. Visit your healthcare provider for a personal assessment of your heart's condition.