Heart Association Targets Women; the Nationwide Campaign Promotes Smart Lifestyle Choices and Actions

Article excerpt

Byline: CHERIE BLACK

"Pain" and "hurt" were the only words Tari Kendall could squeeze from her lips as she sat doubled over one morning last fall.

The Gainesville woman was nauseous and her arms felt weak. She had just finished walking her dog and thought maybe she was coming down with the flu. Having just taken part in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk four days earlier, she thought perhaps it was a pulled muscle. Either way, Kendall felt the pain would eventually pass and tried to continue with her day.

As the morning progressed, however, her pain grew worse, alarming her husband to something potentially serious. He kept asking her to smile, making sure her facial muscles were still working and she wasn't having a stroke. He had been a team captain during the walk and knew what signs to look for.

But what Kendall's body was signaling wasn't at all what the couple expected. Once at the hospital, tests revealed Kendall, 43, had suffered a heart attack.

"This was very different for me," said Kendall, a dance instructor at Santa Fe Community College who had no family history of the disease and showed no red flags during a physical two months before her October heart attack. "This came out of left field."

It's an example of how women can have different symptoms and effects from a heart attack than men. While women can suffer the same symptoms as men -- chest pain, for example -- many, such as Kendall, experience other common symptoms not usually recognized, such as nausea, vomiting and back or jaw pain.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the United States, with one out of three dying from heart disease or stroke every year, totaling nearly 500,000 deaths, according to the American Heart Association. …