Heartburn or a Heart Attack?
Ladies' Home Journal: Doctors are more likely to delay heart attack care for women than men. What happened when you first went to the hospital? And when did you know something was really wrong?
Carolyn Thomas: Yes, my story, unfortunately, is not uncommon. When I was misdiagnosed three years ago when I was 58, it seemed like a very high-drama story, but I learned later that it happens all too often. Heart attacks are growing among younger women, and it's even more likely that a woman under 55 will be sent home from the emergency room.
My symptoms started on my daily morning walk. It was so early that morning there was nobody on the streets. No dog walkers. No traffic. Nothing. Suddenly, out of the blue I felt crushing chest pains, nausea, sweating and a pain down my left arm. I was leaning against a tree, and I remember my first thought was, "This better not be a heart attack because I do not have time for this.""Pain down your left arm is not a symptom of indigestion."
But then I was quite frightened, thinking, "Oh my God, I can't move. What am I going to do?" I was hoping a dog walker would come by, but no one was out. What really startled me was the pain down my left arm because I had heard that's a symptom of a heart attack. After about 20 minutes, my symptoms began to ease up, and I was able to start inching home.