Tweet Tips for the Sandwich Generation: Heart Disease Is Number One Killer of Women and Men AND Silent/Not-So-Silent Heart Attack Symptoms!

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Today is Twitter Tuesday at SandwichINK and I have an important tweet I want to focus on. If you are one of the many Sandwich Generation women caring for elderly parents, I discovered some vital information for us all!

Did you know that women account for nearly half of all the heart attack deaths! And all you men who are caregivers can’t relax either. Heart disease is THE number one killer for BOTH women and men!

@AgingSuite is the one to thank for bringing this to our attention! She pointed me to Heart Health for Boomers where I discovered that “heart disease remains the number one cause of death in America,” and the members of the never-aging Baby Boomers Generation “are of an age where heart problems seem to begin to manifest themselves!” I would check out the rest of the article as it is full of useful tips and information.

I then went to check out what our government has to say about this subject. They are often full of great info, and this was no exception. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) was an excellent resource. They pointed out several important things for all of us to know – we women and the men who love us:

  • Men and women respond differently to heart attacks.
  • Women are less likely than men to believe they are having a heart attack.
  • Because of that, women are more likely to delay seeking emergency help.
  • Women are different from men in that they tend to be about 10 years older when they have a heart attack. That means they are more likely to have other problems as well, causing complications and making it even more vital that they get the proper treatment as fast as possible!

Of course, there are exceptions to ALL of these facts. I have a friend who is only 40 and she just had a heart attack! I have two different male friends who had heart problems in their 40s AND had several other problems even then. Still, it’s very important that we ALL learn about silent AND not-so-silent heart attack symptoms. To quote the NHLBI, heart attack symptoms include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the center of the chest
  • Pain or discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Other symptoms, such as a shortness of breath, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or light-headedness.
  • Both men and women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. BUT women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Also, it's important to realize that you could experience what are called “Silent” Heart Attacks in women or men. According to MedicineNet, quoting from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, more than one in five people over the age of 65 who have heart attacks have ‘unrecognized’ ones…one kind is truly silent- it has no symptoms. The other has symptoms, but they are either very mild or are ignored…”

As MedicineNet goes on to explain, ignoring the mild signs during one mild heart attack can lead to major complications later in life. And did you notice they mentioned 65 or older? That means, they may have had those silent heart attacks around 55-60. That pretty much encompasses all of us in the never-aging Baby Boomers Generation!

If you, or an elderly parent you are caring for, notices or feels ANY heart attack symptoms, or anything that causes you some concern, DO NOT DELAY. REMEMBER, MINUTES MATTER! CALL 9-1-1.

As busy members of the Sandwich Generation caring for elderly parents and helping with the grandkids, it’s easy for us to put our own needs aside, particularly if our loved ones are going through tough times. We may think it’s just a false alarm and our aging parents need us to much to take time off to go to the doctor.

Instead, we need to stop and think, what would happen to them if we had a heart attack, ignored it, and died! Our delay will NOT help our elderly parents or ourselves! I would encourage each of you to print out the list above and hang it where it’s easy to see. If you, or any of those you love, complain about these symptoms, do call 9-1-1 as soon as possible.

It’s better to be safe than sorry and that’s never more true than for those of us in the Sandwich Generation, caring for our elderly parents and enjoying those grandkids! We want to make sure, Lord willing, that we have plenty more years to help and enjoy them all. ☺


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  1. Tweet Tips for the Sandwich Generation: Heart Disease Is Number One Killer of Women and Men AND …

  2. Tweet Tips for the Sandwich Generation: Heart Disease Is Number …

  3. Tweet Tips for the Sandwich Generation: Heart Disease Is Number …: Important info about silent and not-so-silent…

    • GraceBarkwell
    • May 4, 2010

    Tweet Tips for the Sandwich Generation: Heart Disease Is Number …

  4. Tweet Tips for the Sandwich Generation: Heart Disease Is Number …

    • GraceBarkwell
    • May 4, 2010

    Tweet Tips for the Sandwich Generation: Heart Disease Is Number …

  5. Tweet Tips for the Sandwich Generation: Heart Disease Is Number …

    • Ellen Besso
    • May 5, 2010

    The stress of being a caregiver to an elderly parent is unbelievable and unmeasurable for most femal caregivers. Most of us are midlife women and already dealing with peri/menopausal and other issues. We can’t possibly do it all. In my opinion, from personal experience and my book research, feeling GUILTY that we’re not doing enough is the biggest problem – it’s what brings us to our knees. On the whole, men deal with elder care decisions differently – they delegate more and they don’t do intimate/personal/emotional work nearly as much; they do the practical, business-type tasks.

    We need to step back and re-assess what we’re doing, before our health is too impacted for us to bounce back from the relentless stress of caregiving.

    Ellen Besso, MA
    MidLife Coach, Author & Elder Care Expert
    Book: Surviving Eldercare: Where Their Needs End & Yours Begin

  6. Hi Ellen, Thanks for stopping by. You are so right that we can’t do it all, yet so many of us do feel guilty. Praise God, though, He can and does deliver us from that false guilt when we surrender it to Him! 🙂 Have a blessed week!

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