Nineteen-year-old Naomi Lee wondered what to do when she woke up one morning in the summer of 2020 with chest pains. She, her parents, and her brother had all been battling the flu, so it was normal for her to feel sick, but the pain was new.
It was the height of the pandemic, so she knew she was unlikely to see a doctor, but she felt it was “too dramatic” to go to the hospital. I thought it would be better to be safe.
Within hours of arriving at the emergency room, Lee learned he had myocarditis. Myocarditis is a rare complication of influenza in which a virus attacks a person’s heart. Within days, Lee’s heart stopped beating completely.
“Thankfully I was in the hospital and put on life support,” Lee said, looking back two and a half years later.
For a time, Lee recovered and was able to return to Coquitlam, but as the summer progressed, so did her heart failure.
“Looking back, I couldn’t make an appointment for a visit because of the new coronavirus, but when the doctor called me, I said I was doing well, because that’s what I wanted to feel. I couldn’t understand or admit that I was getting worse.”
By September, Lee was back on life support. She had her battery-powered pump implanted in her heart as her last resort to save her heart, but she will have to undergo a full transplant in the summer of 2021. bottom.
“Every time I stop and think, I’m speechless. There’s someone else’s mind in my body, which I don’t think I’ll ever get used to.”
For months after her first hospital visit, Lee said she believed heart failure was only for old people with canes.
“I felt so alone. And I felt like a strange person – who gets heart failure at 19?”
Few Canadians know that heart disease and stroke are actually the leading causes of premature death among women, claiming 32,271 lives in 2019, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Women are actually at a higher risk of dying from this condition. According to Heart and Stroke, 20% more women than men died of heart failure in Canada in 2019, and 32% more women died of stroke than she did.
Lee’s chest pain symptoms are what most people associate with a heart attack, but according to Heart and Stroke, women often experience many other lesser-known indicators. This includes neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdomen discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting.
According to Heart and Stroke, the general lack of awareness of this among both the public and medical professionals suggests that 50% of women who have a heart attack are unaware of their symptoms. I mean that is, new report On Wednesday (February 1), which marks the start of Heart Month, we outline the inequalities women face in accessing heart and brain health care.
The foundation says it is committed to increasing women-specific research and training to help women understand more vulnerable times in their lives, such as pregnancy and menopause.
Raising awareness is also what Lee is looking for. She remembers feeling silly going to the hospital for something as trivial as chest pain, and believes many women have decided not to go to the hospital for the same reason. It seems like one easy way to make sure more women get the care they need.
“Maybe it could save someone’s life.”
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