A few days ago I started having chest pain. It wasn’t very painful, so I ignored it. Then my neck and arms started to hurt. Weird, I thought as I sat down for dinner. After dinner it was time to put the kids to bed. I stood up – whoa, I thought, this is NOT right. My breathing picked up and I felt unsteady. I sat back down.
As Martin began to put the kids to bed I thought of my grandmother who passed away when I was 8. I thought of how she’d had heart disease for a long time and her first heart attack was in her 30s. I thought of how my symptoms vaguely remembled what I already knew about heart attacks. It can’t be, I thought, this pain isn’t severe enough.
Still, I thought it best to seek advice and called NHS direct. You need to be seen tonight, the call handler said. Oh shit, I thought as I remembered the persistent palpitations and indigestion-like pain I’d had for DAYS. What if I’m actually having a heart attack? What if? What if? WHAT IF?
Luckily I am fine and was eventually sent home with a referral to the GP (for the palpitations). I didn’t get the impression I was making a fuss over nothing at any point, in fact the hospital staff were glad to help. Only then did I brave Google and I was shocked at what I saw. Here is a quote from British Heart Foundation (see the full page here)
The symptoms of a heart attack vary from one person to another. You may feel tightness or pain in your chest. This may spread to your arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach. For some people, the pain or tightness is severe, while others may feel nothing more than a mild discomfort.
I thought of all the heart attacks I’d watched on TV. Men mostly, clutching their chests and collapsing in agony. This doesn’t exactly portray mild discomfort, does it?How many people put off calling for help because they don’t think they’re in severe enough pain? Another quote from the same page:
Sadly, around one in two people die from a heart attack and don’t have the chance to recover.
Still don’t want to make a fuss? Watch this video from British Heart Foundation called Watch Your Own Heart Attack. It’s only 2:21 and it’s a real eye opener.
I was fine. Will you be? Don’t be an idiot – clue yourself up.