Dr. Sandra Nichols kept her severe heart attack a secret from others outside of her immediate circle. In fact, she felt “embarassed” when it happened to her.
She recalls feeling the pressure of having to be everything to everybody at the time because she was working way too much and just not getting enough sleep either.
Despite having a medical background, she was unaware that the signs of congestion and shortness of breath indicated a heart attack was about to occur.
Nichols says that “I knew I only had so many beats per hour, per day for so many years. And I had used those up with my attitude, with my pushing myself to be beyond what my body, my family, sometimes even I expected of myself.”
The health scare was so serious that Nichols is actually lucky to have survived.
She even suffered a severe burn after passing out and falling on her curling iron when she had her heart attack.
The doctors warned her daughter that she would be lucky not to be brain dead if she were to even wake up.
With that being said, she actually required a heart transplant following her heart attack.
Heart disease is the top cause of mortality in the United States for both men and women, yet studies reveal that women put off seeking medical attention longer than men do, mainly because they are unaware that their symptoms usually differ.
Stress is a significant contributing factor to the symptoms of heart distress in women, according to cardiologist Dr. Anum Minhas.
Dr. Minhas explains that “The heart is not just one thing independent of the rest of the body. You’re a full person who goes beyond just the biologic functions. There are psychological functions, there’s an emotional side to everything and really nourishing every aspect of your health will overall make you a much healthier person.”
The majority of cardiac events can be avoided with a healthy diet, a regular sleep schedule, awareness of one’s family medical history, and a commitment to minimizing stress.
Knowing the symptoms of heart attacks in women can also save lives.
Women are less likely than men to experience arm pain, but they’re more likely to experience neck or even jaw pain, shortness of breath, fatigue and nausea.
In stark contrast to when she received her diagnosis, when Nichols was hiding her heart attack from co-workers and even friends, she is now a spokesperson for the American Heart Association.
She advises taking a good moment to pay close attention to your body and health.
“Because if not, they might find themselves flat on the floor, unresponsive, unconscious. And I strongly hope no one has to go through what I’ve gone through,” she says.