Doctor dismissed her own symptoms of a heart attack as ‘reflux’

Dr Nighat reveals heart attacks symptoms in women

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The mum-of-two, now 37, said: “I assumed that I didn’t feel well because life was crazy, and I wasn’t sleeping very much.” Jessica had been experiencing occasional pain that radiated from her chest up to her throat. She recalled: “I just thought I was having terrible reflux because I was exhausted and not eating properly.”

With a three-year-old and six-month-old baby at the time, Jessica had other priorities other than her health.

Popping antacids for her intermittent chest pain that went on for a week, it was when she was at work that she couldn’t ignore it any more.

The sensation of heartburn started again, Jessica told Insider, but then the pain grew so intense, she was pale and sweaty, so an ambulance was called.

Jessica said a heart attack “was not even on [her] radar”, as it is “so rare” for her age group.

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“I’ve never had a history of any heart problems,” Jessica stated, who underwent testing at the hospital.

“In reviewing my chart afterwards, I saw that it was written that I was anxious, but I was not anxious, I was just in a lot of pain,” she said.

“My husband came and he was sort of my advocate for how much pain I was in. But it certainly took some time for my symptoms to be taken seriously.”

When tested for troponin, a protein that occurs when there’s been heart damage, the results came back positive.

Heart attack symptoms, as pointed out by the NHS:

  • Chest pain – a feeling of pressure, heaviness, tightness or squeezing across your chest
  • Pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is spreading from your chest to your arms (usually the left arm, but it can affect both arms), jaw, neck, Back and tummy
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling sick (nausea) or being sick (vomiting)
  • An overwhelming feeling of anxiety (similar to a panic attack)
  • Coughing or wheezing.

Jessica said that the crushing chest pain returned while at the hospital, and an electrocardiogram revealed her coronary artery was completely blocked.

To save her heart muscle from permanent damage, the doctors had to operate immediately.

A stent was placed in the coronary artery to open up the blood vessel so that blood could travel to the heart.

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Jessica was later diagnosed with two blood vessel disorders: vasospasm and microvascular disease.


Harvard Medical School noted that vasospasm is the sudden constriction of coronary arteries that reduces blood supply to the heart.

A vasospasm is due to a “sudden imbalance in chemical messengers” that could occur upon waking, during an episode of stress, or as a result of hyperventilation.

“In a relatively healthy individual, a single episode of coronary vasospasm doesn’t usually have long-term consequences.”

Microvascular disease

The Mayo Clinic explains microvascular disease means the walls of the small arteries in the heart aren’t working properly.

The condition is more common in women, those who have diabetes or high blood pressure.

Jessica said: “I really have had to adjust my life because I still get significant chest pain, fatigue, and all the things that come along with the cardiac disease.

“Taking a moment to be aware of your own health, even when you’re taking care of everyone else, is something I learned.”

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