Every woman needs to read this: Men it is in your interests too

The Good Life Letter 

9th March 2018

  • Find out how one woman’s experience will change your point of view
  • The real gender differences that hide ill health
  • ...and finally, the story that you thought I would be interested in
My days are usually spent in my office reading research papers and looking through online journals to try to keep ahead of the latest developments...or hiding from the real world as Lara says!

But every now and then I do venture into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and see if the kids have left anything nice to eat.

During one of my fruitless searches for a nice morsel or two, my beloved wife and one of her friends walked in chatting away as only women can.

If you get two blokes together they confine themselves to comments on sport, a grumble about the economy and a saucy joke...the fairer sex on the other hand delve into intricate detail on health, love life, family, weather, holidays, slanderous gossip, food...and the filthiest of humour.

Often in the same breath!

I felt like a Colditz prisoner on the run as the searchlight sweeps over the area and catches me full square...

“You need to hear about this Ray” said Lara, indicating to her friend with her thumb. “Christine has had a really scary experience and I’ll bet neither you nor any of your readers know anything about it.”

I feared the worst.

What was I about to discover that the fair Christine had been suffering from...I prayed it was going to involve something above the waist!

The experience that she told me about however was one that I think does need to be shared, especially amongst every woman who reads the Good Life Letter.

Gender differences we need to know about

Waking one morning Christine padded off to the toilet and then downstairs to make a cup of tea, leaving her husband to slumber for a few more precious minutes.

Returning to the bedroom she said she felt a little odd and had a burning sensation behind her sternum (breastbone) which she attributed to drinking her tea before it had cooled.

As she sat on the edge of the bed she was rubbing across the space between her breasts and saying that she felt short of breath, as if something was pressing on her chest.

This was enough for her husband who suggested that they head to A & E, which Christine said was unnecessary.
“I just thought it was a bit of indigestion because I had suffered a similar feeling after meeting Lara a few days before for a coffee and then ran to get to my car before the time ran out.”

On hearing this same story her husband became more urgent about the trip to the hospital, and Christine finally gave in.

“I didn’t feel ill and thought it was going to be a waste of time, but I went along just to keep the peace!”

At the hospital a junior doctor hooked her up to an ECG machine and investigated her heart rhythm, took her blood pressure, gave her a blood test and sent her for a chest x- ray.

Returning with her results he said that there wasn’t anything obvious in the findings but he was going to get a second opinion from one of the cardiac registrars.

“I had begun to feel much better by this stage and was saying to my husband that we should go, and stop wasting everyone’s time.”

But by the time the registrar came into the cubicle she had begun to experience a dull pain in her jaw and around her left shoulder blade.

The senior specialist looked at the ECG trace which was still running and listened to her new symptoms.

“Well my dear” he exclaimed. “You are currently having a heart attack. Only a mild one and perhaps one that you wouldn’t have noticed if you hadn’t been here, but a heart attack is the cause of your distress.”

Both Christine and her husband were shocked by this news.

“But I haven’t had the excruciating chest pains or problems in my left arm that everyone says indicates a heart problem” Christine ventured.

“That is because all those classic symptoms relate to men, not women” said the cardiologist. “We have been getting this wrong for too long now and all women need to know that they should get anything investigated that doesn’t feel right, no matter how minor it seems to be.”

She is now carrying a GTN spray and has had an angiogram which showed a slight narrowing of one of her vessels that supplies blood to the heart which they were able to fix at the time.

But her experience was one that I felt I had to share and also list the three subtle signs of a cardiac problem that no women should ignore:

  1. Unusual fatigue: Most women will say that they are tired a lot of the time because they lead busy and active lives (trying to sort out their husbands and children!). But if you find yourself getting fatigued by simple tasks like changing the bed or hoovering and this is not normally the case, or that you are tired but also suffering excessive sleep disturbance, then it is time to act.

  2. Sweating and/or shortness of breath: Again the menopause can cause exactly these issues, but this is where you begin to sweat or suffer breathing restriction without exertion.

  3. Neck, jaw and shoulder pain: These can often be put down to sleeping awkwardly or having had a heavy day moving furniture etc but actually these mild aches and discomforts can be the very early signs of cardiac distress.

Do not ignore them.

All these findings are backed up by a new report which shows that many of the clinical models used to diagnose problems are based upon only male subjects as researchers avoided testing women to exclude the effects of hormonal changes.

Now the NHS is rapidly catching up with these differences – and it is time that we all knew about this too.
There is more information in the Daily Mail article here.

And finally...

There was some low hanging fruit for anyone who writes a health newsletter concerning a statement that ‘Britain Needs To Go On A Diet’ which our health chiefs delivered this week.

Apparently, the government would like to see the number of calories in processed food drop by 20%, in addition to lowering the sugar content too.

Which all sounds absolutely lovely and something that I for one have been calling for over many years, no doubt that you will be familiar with my many tirades against the big food industry!

But do you know what? This isn’t even a story.

It is a piece of blatant PR by our lords and masters which will achieve exactly three fifths of very little.
There may be front page headlines and it might feature within the top three stories on the evening news, but the reality is that it won’t make a jot of difference.

Too many people make too much money from getting folk hooked on high calorie food.

If this is going to change it has to come from within the population and that means properly educating our children and showing them the real value of good food.

Until I see a government strategy that does that I will not be hoping for any change at all.

Yours, as always

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