Magazine article Nutrition Action Healthletter

Close to My Heart

Magazine article Nutrition Action Healthletter

Close to My Heart

Article excerpt

I hope you don't find this issue's cover story on heart disease in women as useful as my family did.

Over the long July 4th weekend, my wife, Donna, and I were enjoying several beautiful days at the Delaware beach. A highlight was taking a long bike ride through Cape Henlopen State Park, where the hot sun was tempered by a cool ocean breeze. The park abounds with red-winged blackbirds, great egrets, and other gorgeous birds.

When we got back to our friends' house, Donna felt an unusual pain in her chest and left arm. She asked a question that she had never before asked: "Am I having a heart attack?"

That seemed so bizarre, but I gave her a draft of the cover article, which I had recently edited.

Donna's symptoms were distressingly similar to those described in the article, so she checked the websites of the American Heart Association and the Women's Health Alliance, the group co-founded by Barbra Streisand. The take-away message from all three sources: "Don't take a chance; get thee to a hospital fast."

It seemed so strange for this youthful, 64-year-old woman, whose symptoms were not all that severe, to be having a heart attack. But because she had never experienced those symptoms before, Donna wisely decided to go to the hospital.

So, even though the beach beckoned us from the east, we drove a few miles west to the Beebe Medical Center. The nurses quickly examined Donna and did several tests, including an electrocardiogram and a blood test for an enzyme that reflects heart damage.

The next morning the cardiologist confirmed that Donna had indeed had a heart attack. …

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