A woman leaning back holding up a glowing heart

A Heart Month Review

February has been heart month for as long as I can remember. It is the month to stop and check in with yourself and your heart health.

We have all heard horror stories of women that have begged for a diagnosis and have their symptoms dismissed as anxiety. Woman’s heart health is often not taken seriously in North America and around the world.

Many medical personnel have ignored our symptoms with no intent to take us seriously, but it is, in fact, a serious matter.

Heart issues need to be taken seriously

I was pushed around by many doctors who were quick to judge without listening to my story. My doctor was sure my symptoms came down to weight and anxiety.

I wanted to believe he was right because it was easy for me to wash my hands and walk away. But I know now that heart attacks present differently in women than they do in men.

More research is on males

Most research has been done on men. If you check the evidence-based reports, an overwhelming amount are all quoted as symptoms from research done on men.

There is very little information based on women and the effects of having heart problems. I thought I was getting off easy because the doctor was so calm about my symptoms.

It turned out that I was very sick, and each day brought me closer to my final destination and a sudden cardiac arrest.

COPD and cardiac symptoms

I have been diagnosed with COPD, and I suffer from constant shortness of breath. The fact is that my lungs are so compromised they have left me with heart failure.

It is complicated because the symptoms for each are quite similar. So, when I have episodes of shortness of breath, my heart rate rises to dangerously high levels, and my oxygen levels fall dangerously low.

Every episode is judged on its own merit using an oximeter, a small meter that you place on your finger. It helps me to determine if it's the heart or oxygen that is causing the problem. Mostly it is a combination of both.

Plumbing problems of the heart

The up-and-down pumping of the heart is referred to as plumbing. The heart is usually strong enough to pump blood from the heart down to the ankle and back up to the brain.

This is where you will find blockages and heart failure. Your heart is probably not working to the capacity it should be when this occurs.

Electrical problems

Think of your toast as it wiggles out of the toaster. We slam the bread down and wait, but nothing happens.

Panicking, you think the toaster must be broken, but upon closed inspection, the is no problem with the toaster.

Upon further inspection, there is no problem with the electricity. Rather the plug is not engaged with the socket, meaning there is no connectivity. This is similar to what happens during sudden cardiac arrest.

Getting testing

By the process of elimination, the tests that are done will bring your doctor to a conclusion. He will likely extend an offer for you to attend cardiac rehab.

Much the same as respiratory rehab, where they teach us how to live with pulmonary problems and keep us safe.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 7th, 2024, Barbara Moore passed away. Barbara’s advocacy efforts and writing continue to reach many. She will be deeply missed.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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