Doctor calls her own heart attack symptoms ‘terrible reflux’
The mom-of-two, now 37, said: “I assumed I didn’t feel well because life was crazy and I didn’t get much sleep.” Jessica experienced occasional pain that radiated from her chest to her throat. She recalled: “I just thought I had terrible reflux because I was malnourished and didn’t eat well.”
At the time, Jessica had a three-year-old and six-month-old child and had other priorities besides her health.
She took antacids for intermittent chest pains that lasted for a week, but when she was at work, she could no longer ignore it.
The heartburn sensation started again, Jessica told Insider, but then the pain became so severe that she was pale and sweaty, so an ambulance was called.
Jessica said the heart attack “wasn’t even on [her] radar” as it is “such a rarity” for her age group.
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“I never had heart problems,” said Jessica, who was examined at the hospital.
“Looking at my card afterwards, I saw that it was written that I was worried, but I was not worried, I was just in a lot of pain,” she said.
“My husband came and he was kind of my advocate for how much I was suffering. But it certainly took some time for my symptoms to be taken seriously.”
When tested for troponin, a protein that occurs when the heart is damaged, the results were positive.
Symptoms of a heart attack, as indicated by the NHS:
- Chest pain is a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness, or squeezing in the chest.
- Pain in other parts of the body – may feel as if the pain radiates from the chest to the arms (usually the left arm, but may involve both arms), jaw, neck, back, and abdomen.
- Feeling light or dizzy
- Feeling nauseous (nausea) or feeling unwell (vomiting)
- An overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to a panic attack)
- Cough or wheezing.
Jessica said the crushing chest pain returned at the hospital and an electrocardiogram showed her coronary artery was completely blocked.
To save her heart muscle from permanent damage, doctors had to operate on her immediately.
A stent was placed in the coronary artery to open up a blood vessel so that blood could enter the heart.
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Jessica was later diagnosed with two vascular diseases: vasospasm and microvascular disease.
The Harvard Medical School noted that vasospasm is a sudden narrowing of the coronary arteries that reduces the blood supply to the heart.
Vasospasm occurs due to a “sudden imbalance of chemical messengers” that can occur upon awakening, during times of stress, or as a result of hyperventilation.
“In a relatively healthy person, a single episode of coronary vasospasm usually has no long-term consequences.”
The Mayo Clinic explains microvascular disease by saying that the walls of the small arteries in the heart don’t work properly.
The disease is more common in women with diabetes or high blood pressure.
Jessica said: “I really had to change my life because I still have severe chest pain, fatigue and all that is related to heart disease.
“I’ve learned to take the time to look after my health, even when you’re taking care of everyone else.”
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