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Symptoms of Myocardial Infarction
Feb 6, 2001

I don't really have a question, but a suggestion. I am a 45 year old HIV pos (since 1989) woman. I am extremely treatment (PI) experienced. . . saquinavir, ritonavir, crix, nelfinavir, and now Kaltrec. My cholesterol and triglycerides have been slightly elevated for some time now, however they were not seen as being dangerously high. Chol was under 4 and trig was 1.2. I am 5'7", about 145 lbs, no family history of heart disease. I am a smoker (about a half pack a day). This past August, I suffered a Myocardial Infarction. While in the hospital, I had an angioplasty and a stent inserted. The most frightening part of the whole experience was that I did not even know that I was having a heart attack until the next day. I actually spoke to 2 docs (on the phone) while I was having the heart attack. I had started on Kaltrec about 6 weeks earlier and we all assumed that I was having really severe heartburn. I was most surprised by how much pain I had in BOTH arms, my neck and jaw area. Now I know that those are fairly typical symptoms of a heart attack, and for me, that is how my angina presents. I was surprised by how little chest or heart pain I actually felt, and I certainly thought I was far too young for a heart attack. Two days after the heart attack, the cardiologist said that if he didn't know that I had just had a heart attack, he would have been thrilled with my blood work. My suggestion is that, perhaps you could provide a list of heart attack symptoms and other pertinent information. I was very surprised to learn that the average age of women having myocardial infarction (with or without HIV) is 45 years of age.

Response from Dr. Boyle

That's a pretty good suggestion. There are many symptoms of a heart attack, and sometimes the symptoms are atypical from those normally experienced by most patients (for example, I once had a patient who had left jaw pain when she was exercising and this was her only sign of poor cardiac blood flow). The common symptoms of a heart attack are chest pain/pressure (some patients describe as "an elephant sitting on my chest") that may or may not radiate into the left arm, neck or back, shortness of breath, feeling sweaty/clammy, nausea, fatigue/weakness, anxiety/apprehension. If you experience these, especially if you have chest pain/pressure and any other symptom, you should call your doctor or go to the ER for evaluation. BB



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