Heart attack symptoms for women often not what you'd think

Posted at: 02/22/2013 8:32 AM
Updated at: 02/22/2013 10:20 AM
By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4

You might think if you were having a heart attack, you'd know it. But, that's not always the case, especially for women.

We talked to one woman who knew she wasn't feeling good, but had no idea how serious it was.

"I would have bet an entire year's paycheck that I was not having a heart event at all," said Lydia Koch. In fact, she thought it was the flu.

"My shoulder was kind of stiff. Then my throat started to get sore and I started to get a little sick to my stomach."

Turns out, Koch was having a heart attack.

"I didn't have any of the typical symptoms at all." But, symptoms can sometimes be anything but typical

Dr. Mihaela Bujoi with the New Mexico Heart Institute said, "Women tend to have somewhat different symptoms." Dr. Bujoi said, "They get more shortness of breath as opposed to chest discomfort." She added, "They can feel very, very tired. Fatigued. They can have pain only in the jaw or only in the arm or only in the back." Dr. Bujoi says if you suspect something is wrong, go to the emergency room and chew on an aspirin. "That's going to start working immediately and it does, it's one of the easy things you can do that decreases significantly the complications with heart attack."

But heart disease is preventable and it's controllable. Koch says she's modified her lifestyle since her heart attack and her advice to others is simple.

"Medicine alone will not cut it. You have to change your diet and you have to exercise."

Dr. Bujoi says you also need to be aware of your family history and get regular check-ups. February is American Heart Month.

To coincide with heart disease awareness, Lovelace is having its annual Day of Dance event, Saturday, February 23 from 11-3.

It's at the Embassy Suites: 1000 Woodward Place NE. The event is free and offers things like health screenings, heart-healthy snacks, dancing demonstrations, even a celebrity dance-off.

KOB's own Gadi Schwartz, Jill Galus and Heather Mills will all be performing.

For more information on heart health and tips to prevent heart disease, check out: http://www.lovelace.com/go-red