WomenHeart Statement On Rosie O'Donnell's Heart Attack


Lisa M. Tate, CEO of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease responded to the news of comedian and actress Rosie O'Donnell's heart attack:

"Rosie O'Donnell's experience with her heart attack is one that is all too common among women. She didn't recognize her symptoms as those of a heart attack and she delayed calling 911.

Data shows that only one in five women believe heart disease is their greatest health threat, and only 53 percent say they would call 911 if experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack.

Although women may experience heart attack symptoms typical of men (crushing chest pain, pain in the left arm), they can experience a wide range of less recognized symptoms including shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, unusual fatigue, and pain in the back, shoulders and jaw.

Delay in recognition of symptoms and seeking emergency care can result in irreversible damage to heart muscle or death. When a woman (or man) thinks they may be experiencing a heart attack they should take the following actions:

1) Call 911 within five minutes of the start of symptoms (do not drive yourself or let family or friends drive you to the hospital);

2) Chew and swallow one regular full-strength aspirin with a glass of water as soon as possible;

3) Once at the hospital, make it clear you are having symptoms of a heart attack.

Rosie O'Donnell's courage and frankness in speaking out about her heart attack will surely save lives by making women more aware of heart attack symptoms and the need to seek immediate care."