Forty-one year-old Michelle Melvin was celebrating Mother’s Day with her family when pain shot through her jaw and up into her temples. Then her arms went numb.
At first, Michelle ignored the sensation and proceeded to fill her children’s plates with food. It wasn’t until the pain and numbness returned multiple times that she told her husband that something was wrong. Her family chimed in with the usual remedies: Maybe you’re hungry? Maybe you should lie down? Drink some water?
Michelle called Kaiser Permanente’s 24-hour advice hotline for guidance. After explaining the odd sensation in her jaw and arms, the nurse on duty advised her to go to the hospital immediately: Michelle was describing symptoms of a heart attack.
Michelle’s husband rushed her to their local Kaiser Permanente hospital, where doctors monitored Michelle closely. When Michelle’s tests came back, they proved the nurse right. Michelle had experienced a heart attack.
Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack saves lives, and according to Kaiser Permanente cardiologist Julie Sutherland, MD, women often experience different symptoms than men do. “They might experience shortness of breath; they might experience decrease in their exercise tolerance; they might experience neck or jaw pain,” explained Dr. Sutherland. “It might not be the sort of crushing chest pain where people grab their chest like you see on TV.”
Thanks to Michelle’s intuition and Kaiser Permanente, Michelle fully recovered from her heart attack. She keeps her heart healthy by staying active and eating a heart healthy diet that is low in cholesterol, saturated fat and salt.