Actress Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket in "The Hunger Games") appeared in the 2012 PSA "A Little Heart Attack," about a working mother of two who is unaware she's experiencing a cardiac event. Banks' character is so absorbed in multitasking - doing the laundry, taking a work phone call, making lunch for her kids - that she never asks herself what's causing her excessive sweating, nausea, jaw tightening and breathlessness. Her son Googles "women's heart attack symptoms" and eventually she calls 911, saying she's sorry to be a bother, but she thinks she's had "a little heart attack."
That "forging ahead" approach to heart health isn't uncommon for women. One study found that women wait 37 minutes longer than men to seek treatment for a heart attack. That's not smart, especially since middle-age women are increasingly hard-hit by heart disease. According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017 the death rates from heart disease in women ages 45 to 64 increased by 7%, compared with 3% for men.
If you're not hip to a woman's heart attack symptoms (only about 56% of women know heart disease is their No. 1 killer), they include the "traditional ones" of an elephant sitting on your chest, chest pain and a sore left arm, plus nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, sweatiness, discomfort in the jaw, neck and/or shoulders, severe fatigue, bad indigestion and even a sense of impending doom.
So remember, if you think you're having a heart attack, call 911. Don't tough it out. Better safe than sorry.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.