Hard-to-Recognize Heart Attack Symptoms

June Chewning, BS MA

In my 38 year career and 18 years owning a fitness center, I know heart attacks happen.  I have heard about them when members went home, sat up in bed, and dropped dead next to their spouse after a visit to the gym. I have made the ambulance ride to the hospital with them when they thought they just pulled a chest muscle, but their pulse and blood pressure were erratic. When they went back to work after a lunch time work out to look up the symptoms of heat attack on Google and realize it was happening to them right then. When they couldn’t figure out why their calves hurt so bad when they exercised, and when told to stop exercise and consult their physician had triple by-pass surgery the next day.  When my friend’s sister had a massive heart attack at age 40 because they thought she had a bruise instead of a blood clot in her leg.  When a young teacher thought she had the flu from her kids at school and went home early from aerobic class feeling nauseous and dropped dead at the threshold of her apartment.

Health-Fitness professionals, heart disease is the leading cause of death  in the US.  You will encounter it.  Be prepared and get educated. Be aware and vigilant about seeing the tell tale and not so obvious symptoms in your clients.  Save a life…

Healthy Heart, Healthy Life
eLearning Continuing Education Course for
Health-Fitness Professionals

This article is from
the American Heart Association
Go Red for Women Program

Well-known heart attack symptoms can include chest pain and radiating discomfort in the left arm. But, as Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum explains, there are several other ways your body may tell you when something isn’t quite right, potentially with your heart.
Read on for details on four silent heart attack symptoms that women should most definitely be aware of.

Shortness of breath
According to Steinbaum, director of The Heart and Vascular Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, women often struggle to breathe a few weeks before experiencing a heart attack.
“If you are used to doing a certain amount of activity and then, all of a sudden, you can’t get enough air, that is when I get concerned,” says Steinbaum.

Back pain
Irregular pain in the lower or upper back can indicate stress to the heart muscle, Steinbaum says.

Jaw pain
“I had one patient who would feel her jaw start to hurt every time she got on a treadmill,” Steinbaum says. “But once she stopped, her jaw pain would go away. She went to a dentist, but there wasn’t anything wrong with her teeth.”
This discomfort continued until the woman experienced a heart attack. When she came into Steinbaum’s office after the event, it was evident that the jaw pain was directly linked to what was happening in her heart.
“Sometimes the heart isn’t able to give a good signal and, instead, the pain can radiate to the neck, jaw and back,” she says.

Flu-like symptoms are often reported weeks and days before a heart attack. In fact, as Steinbaum explains, TV personality Rosie O’Donnell reportedly regurgitated a few times before she experienced a heart attack in early 2012.

Advice: Trust Your Gut
If you aren’t feeling normal or are experiencing any of the symptoms above, head to you local emergency room. It is better to take care of yourself and prevent damage to your heart, in the event you are having a heart attack.
“A women’s intuition is a very strong thing; don’t ever discount it,” Steinbaum says.
“Ninety percent of my women patients who’ve just had a heart attack tell me that they knew it was their heart all along. That they just had a feeling.”

Your Brain on Exercise-Critical!

The information provided is adapted from “Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention and Intervention,” a Medical Fitness Specialist Certificate Program authored by Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation (ARPF) and produced by Fitness Learning Systems.
June M. Chewning MA, BS, AEA

Dementia is a syndrome characterized by a chronic deterioration relating to memory, thinking, behavior, and the ability to perform activities of daily living. Consciousness, however, is not affected. Dementia is not a normal part of aging. The cause may be related to a variety of diseases and injuries that may have affected the brain. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
There are 47.5 million people suffering from dementia worldwide, with 7.7 million new cases each year. The most common cause of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, makes up 60-70% of cases. (Dementia 2016) Millions of Americans are challenged by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. In 2016, an estimated 5.4 million Americans of various ages are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and approximately 5.2 million of those are ages 65 and older. (Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures 2016)
Although there are natural physiological changes that occur with age, memory loss is neither normal nor a natural process of aging. It is important to take a proactive role in retaining the strength, resiliency, and vitality of the brain. Research has shown that just as the body needs strength-building exercises to maintain muscle strength, so does the brain.
Physical exercise is identified through recent research as one of the key elements in the ARPF 4 Pillars of Prevention™.  “Although at this time, medications have no proven neuroprotective effect on dementia, an evolving literature documents significant benefit of long-term regular exercise on cognition, dementia risk, and perhaps dementia progression.” (Ahlskog 2011 metanalysis)  Many studies suggest that exercise reduces the effects of dementing neurodegenerative mechanisms.
At this time, research significantly indicates that exercise is associated with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia. This appears to happen in two ways: (Ahlskog 2011)

  1. A convergence of evidence from both animal and human studies indicate that aerobic exercise seems to reduce the risk of degeneration of brain processes and seems to protect the brain from biological and neurological decline.
  2. The cardiovascular benefits of aerobic exercise reduce vascular risk improving cerebrovascular (carotid and brain artery) health, reducing plaque build-up, and maintaining better circulation to the brain.

As health-fitness professionals, we are in a position more than ever to help people with making healthy lifestyle choices and with maintaining quality of life.  Exercise is critical to the biological and neurological health of the brain and vascular system that feeds the brain.  Learn more about ways to prevent cognitive decline to help your clients live a long, healthy life with vigor and clarity.

Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation. (2016) Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention and Intervention Medical Fitness Specialist Program. FitnessLearningSystems.com. 888.221.1612.
Ahlskog, J. Eric, Yonas E. Geda, Neill R. Graff-Radford, and Ronald C. Petersen. “Physical Exercise as a Preventive or Disease-Modifying Treatment of Dementia and Brain Aging.” Mayo Clinic. Proceedings 86.9 (2011): 876-84. Web.

Alzheimer’s Disease is now the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. All health-fitness professionals are called to stem this epidemic with prevention and intervention. Get educated and get on board!
Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention and Intervention Medical Fitness Specialist Program. www.FitnessLearningSystems.com. 888.221.1612.