Think Like a Doctor Before You Need One
WEEK 1 - The Doctor
Positive Health Principle #2
Open Your Mind
In today's class you will:
1. Learn the seven unusual signs of a heart attack
2. Discover why women die from a heart attack more often than men
3. Watch a short video about common symptoms caused by a heart attack
At the end of the class take an inspired action and download your weekly materials
REFLECT: What is your understanding of an open-minded person?
“Everything that irritates usabout others, can lead us
to an understandingof ourselves.”
TODAY'S DOSE OF POSITIVE HEALTH
“Life is unpredictable. The only you can count on is the unexpected.” Fedora
Although unexpected events are embedded in our life, self-awareness and knowledge often help avoid disasters.
Many people assume that a heart attack manifests as a sudden and dramatic experience when a person feels an intense squeezing pain in the chest and falls over. The truth is that not everyone has these classic signs of a heart attack. Many people have subtle, but alarming symptoms long before a heart attack occurs.
A recently published study at Harvard Medical School has shown that almost 75% of people who have had a heart attack experienced prior symptoms that were either ignored or dismissed. Over 50% of the men who died from heart attacks did not report any symptoms before, and the attack itself was the first sign of a serious illness. Here are the symptoms you may find confusing:
1. HEART ATTACK OR ARRHYTHMIA?
FAST AND IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT
Every episode of an increased heart rate and irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) can be a sign of an upcoming heart attack. Fast and irregular heartbeat often occur weeks or months before a heart attack.
Any arrhythmia accompanied by a fast heart rate indicates a serious heart problem such as supra-ventricular or ventricular tachycardia (arrhythmia arising from the ventricles).
Although arrhythmias without fast heartbeat are less dangerous, these symptoms still need medical attention. Ventricular tachycardia, for example, is associated with sudden cardiac death particularly when triggered by intense exercise.
All these symptoms may be confused for example with a panic attack. It may seem that suddenly the heart is pounding for no apparent reason, or it may feel "normal" after excessive exercise causing a feeling of weakness, tiredness or dizziness. If you recognise these symptoms, call the ambulance.
2. HEART ATTACK OR STOMACH PROBLEMS?
STOMACHACHE, NAUSEA, INDIGESTION
Stomachache, nausea, indigestion or sometimes even vomiting without any particular reason, may be the first manifestation of heart disease. The mechanism is relatively straightforward: cholesterol deposits accumulated in a coronary artery causes a narrowing or a blockage that reduces a blood supply or cuts blood flow off completely which manifests as a cramping chest or abdominal pain.
Chest pain is most common, and most people are more aware of the risk of potentially impending heart attack when it occurs. Having an abdominal pain, however, may be confusing and taken as a gastric problem. It is important to remember that the masked abdominal pain gets worse with exertion and gets better with a rest. The symptoms come and go, they do not persist.
Watch your symptoms for awhile to exclude the stomach flu or food poisoning. If the symptoms persist, get a check up for gastrointestinal illness and ask your doctor to consider heart disease.
Studies have shown that women more often than men experience gastrointestinal symptoms before a heart attack. Women are also less likely to go to the emergency room than men. In result, 42% of women who experience a heart attack die within one year, compared to 24% of men. Moreover, under the age of fifty, women’s heart attacks are twice as likely to be fatal as men’s.
3. HEART ATTACK OR NEURALGIA?
PAIN IN YOUR JAW, NECK, ARMS OR SHOULDERS
Another indicator of potential heart problems is a pain located in the shoulders, arms, neck or jaw. The mechanism is similar to the abdominal symptoms. Pain manifests ischemia due to a blocked coronary artery. In this case, the "pain signals" travel up and down the spinal cord to junctures with nerves arising from the cervical vertebrae.
The pain tends to radiate from the neck to the jaw and even further to the ear. Sometimes it would radiate down the shoulder to the arm and hand, or it may be located in between the shoulders. It may be felt as a sharp or dull ache a few days or even weeks before the attack. The pain comes and goes rather than persists which makes it difficult to pinpoint and easy to overlook.
The pain may be felt in the neck one day and in the ear and jaw another day. It is likely to experience numbness, tightness, or tingling. If the pain doesn’t go away after a few days, ask your doctor for a check up and describe the nature of your radiating pain in detail.
4. HEART ATTACK OR LUNG PROBLEMS?
BREATHLESSNESS, DIZZINESS, DIFFICULTY TAKING A DEEP BREATH
When you struggle to take a deep breath, feeling like not getting enough oxygen (as if you were at a high altitude or feeling light-headed and dizzy), you may assume that this is linked to lung problems, e.g., you are at the early stage of developing asthma. It could well be the case, but all these symptoms above may also be a result of ischaemia caused by a blocked coronary artery.
Shortness of breath, called dyspnea is often the first sign of a heart disease. Studies show that 40% of women suffering from a heart disease report shortness of breath for up to six months before actually having a heart attack.
5. HEART ATTACK OR HORMONAL IMBALANCE?
Intense sweatiness when you haven’t been physically active more than usual has only recently been recognised as a sign of an upcoming heart attack. In menopausal women, it may feel similar to the hot flashes or night sweats typical for menopause.
A recent study has shown that excessive sweating in various parts of the body, such as the scalp, chest, back, palms, or soles is often the first sign before a heart attack begins. An intense sweating also occurs with a heart condition called endocarditis (an infection of the lining of the heart and heart valves, potentially triggering a heart attack or a stroke).
Sweatiness that is not accompanied by a fever, lasts longer than a week or comes and goes over a long period of time is a sign that there is some other underlying cause, possibly a heart disease. If symptoms seem unusual and don't go away, call your doctor.
6. HEART ATTACK OR FLU?
A Feeling of overwhelming fatigue that is usually associated with the flu, but lasts for weeks or even months can indicate heart problems long before a heart attack occurs.
Researchers say that more than 70% of women reported extreme fatigue a few weeks or months before having a heart attack. Fatigue associated with a heart disease usually comes in waves, suddenly, without any particular reason such as an extreme physical effort, lack of sleep or illness.
You may feel exhausted sooner than normal even after a mild physical exercise. Long lasting fatigue and a heavy feeling in the legs may be the first signals of an upcoming heart attack. A check-up highly recommended!
7. HEART ATTACK OR STRESS?
Studies have shown a strong association between self-reported symptoms of a serious anxiety and a risk of a fatal coronary heart disease. A decrease in oxygen level caused by a heart disease may trigger changes that lead to anxiety, agitation and sleep problems.
Often these symptoms can’t be explained by normal circumstances. Looking back, people who have had a heart attack realise that they began to experience anxiety and insomnia weeks or even months before the attack. It may be the body’s way of trying to let you know that something is just not right. Any new, sudden onset of insomnia, racing thoughts or feelings of dread are the signals to watch out for.
These can manifest as trouble falling asleep or disturbed sleep with a few unexplained episodes of night waking. Although these symptoms may well be related to some recent events or a current life situation, any sudden, unexplained anxiety or insomnia need to be discussed with your doctor.
If you or someone you know have at least one of the seven symptoms described above, don't ignore them. By learning how a heart attack may manifest, you can save a life, perhaps even your own.
7 Unusual Warning Signs of a Heart Attack
A little heart attack
TODAY'S INSPIRED ACTION
Pay attention to your body. Write down any symptomps that concern you.
YOUR WEEKLY SESSION
Get ready for your weekly one-to-one session. Your Grace School guide will contact you within the next few days to book your first appointment.
1. Please make sure that you choose a convenient time and a quiet place for your Skype conversations.
2. Let the members of your household know when you need time for yourself, so you are not being interrupted.
3. Check your wifi connection and show up on time.
4. If you are unable to attend, you can still reschedule within the next few days before the Monday of the following week, if your guide has a free time slot.
5. Your one-to-one sessions are an integral part of the Grace School curriculum. It is, therefore, fundamental that each session is in synchrony with the weekly Grace School modules.
YOUR WEEKLY DOWNLOADS
We encourage you to create an account with the HealthVault - a free to use Microsoft platform that will help helps you store, use and share your health information securely. It will give you the opportunity to manage your condition, monitor your results like blood pressure, glucose or cholesterol levels, send scans and medical files securely and connect with other devices and fitness trackers.
The HealthVault is one of the best and most commonly used platforms in hospitals and healthcare institutions around the world. We use it at the Grace School to help you share your medical records in a secure and easy way. You can create your account here.
All files attached below have been created to support and enhance your positive health experience. These are available for download for the next 7 days. Please set up your account with HealthVault (No1) to keep your health documentation and share relevant files with us. Answer the questions in the Self-Assessment Form (No2) and use the Self-reflection Worksheet (No3) at the end of the week to reflect on your experiences and challenges.
Your WEEK 1 Downloads:
1. HealthVault (set up your account; approx time 5 minutes)
2. Self-Assessment Form - the questions are related to your health and wellbeing (approx. time 10-15 minutes)
3. Self-Reflection Worksheet - at the end of the week reflect on your experiences and challenges (approx time 10-20 minutes)
If you have any questions, comments or technical problems please write: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to help.
We strive to respond within 24 business hours Monday-Friday 9am-5pm GMT. No personal information will be released or exposed.
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