Heart Disease in Women

, Posted: Mon, February 27 2012 at 2:46 PM, Updated: Mon, February 27 2012 at 3:11 PM

While it's the leading cause of death in American women all too often the symptoms of heart disease go unrecognized.

 You could call her a survivor. On January 3rd of 2012 Mary Martin experienced what doctors called a severe heart attack.

 "I knew all the symptoms were there, I was having a heart attack," said Martin.

The symptoms started slowly. First fatigue, nausea, and then chest pain. Eventually her entire body went numb.

 "I thought, I'm going to die. I couldn't breathe and I was throwing up. I was too weak to dial 9-1-1," said Martin.

Luckily Martin had her daughter's number programmed into her phone. While on the phone she spoke two words, "heart attack". When paramedics arrived they confirmed that Martin was having a severe heart attack. 

When she arrived at Rogue Valley Medical Center her coronary artery was 100% blocked. She was rushed directly into surgery when doctors put a stent in her heart.

 Cardiologist Kenneth Lightheart says recognizing the warning signs of a heart attack, chest pain, shortness of breath, and possible jaw pain are vital in getting to the hospital.

 "If there are symptoms that are not going away within five or ten minutes and there is concern that it might be a heart attack, that would be the time to call 9-1-1 or get to the hospital," said Lightheart.

 Just two months after surviving a major heart attack Martin is back on her feet. Excerising more and eating a balanced diet. She attends rehab three times a week where step by step she is regaining her strength.

 " I feel better than I have in a long time," said Martin.

 And always by her side, nitroglycerin, a medicine that can help slow a heart attack if those symptoms return.

A recent national study found that the in-hospital mortally rate for women suffering a heart attack is over 4% higher than men.

Women are also less likely to experience symptoms like chest pain.

But if treated in time, the outlook for heart disease is bright. Here at the Rogue Valley Medical Center the female survival rate for heart attacks is an outstanding 95.5%.

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