controlled by that portion of the brain becomes impaired, lasting from a few minutes to 24 hours. Other indicators include loss of sensation on one side of the body; loss of vision or motor function; or intermittent pain in the calf after walking; the pain results from decreased oxygen and blood flow.
In the case of an impending heart attack, women present much milder and wider symptoms than men. These symptoms are often missed, misdiagnosed, or undertreated by both primary physicians and cardiologists. According to Patrice Desvigne-Nickens, M.D., head of the Cardiovascular Medicine Scientific Research Group at the Bethesda, Maryland-based National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, symptoms include fatigue; shortness of breath; feelings of indigestion and ill health; palpitations; neck, shoulder, and
upper back pain; nausea; vomiting; sweating; and lightheadedness.
After weeks of persistent breathlessness and a vague sense of physical unease, Joan Connell, then 42, an accounting professional at Ziff Davis Publishing, went to the emergency room convinced she was having a heart attack. Despite being an overweight smoker who had been physically inactive for years, she was sent home. A week later she returned and was rushed into emergency bypass surgery that revealed four blocked arteries.
Symptoms in men include angina (chest pain)
, pressure or discomfort in the chest, or a tingling sensation in the arm or on one side of the body. Women, however, experience a broader constellation of symptoms over a prolonged period of time.
Overall, it is becoming increasingly important for individuals to take full ownership of their health: learning, reading, and researching information that will preserve their health, urges Leggett, “so that you can identify somebody who is incompetent taking care of you. Because [many] don’t know the parameters of their conditions,” Leggett offers, “they don’t know that when someone says ‘Go home, you’re fine’ to say ‘I’ve read that diabetics can feel like this,’ or ‘Why don’t you have a cardiologist [look at me]?'”
He laments that many of us are so consumed with pursuing economic and career goals that we too often neglect our health in the process. “Our ability to generate [wealth] is largely dependent on the preservation of our physical existence,” he stresses. “You have to have quality physical examinations, know your history, and you have to identify high-caliber physicians around the country. Your health is important enough for you to find out where these people are,” Leggett asserts. “You’ve got men who will drive 100 miles to play golf, but they don’t want to drive 10 miles to see a good doctor.”
Additional reporting by Sonia Alleyne
High Blood Cholesterol
Take heart. Here are seven diagnostic and treatment methods to save your life:
Some diagnostic tools, such as EKGs, often fail to accurately show heart defects. Here are other screening methods you need to know about:
Angiography or arteriogram—a procedure that uses an X-ray and a special dye to see inside the arteries, veins, and heart chambers to detect abnormalities.
Carotid Ultrasound—illustrates blood flow patterns and the narrowing of neck arteries.
Cardiac Scanning (CT)—examines anatomical abnormalities of