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Signs of heart trouble can be subtle for women

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Signs of heart trouble can be subtle for women
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EAST SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Between her family and job as a nurse with Upstate University Hospital's Coronary Care Unit, Norine Faatz's life is a busy one.

"I'm the type of person that doesn't let anything slow me down, and I just keep going, going, going," said Faatz.

But this past summer, she knew she had to make time to see a doctor.

"I had abdominal pain, I didn't feel good, I just felt run down for maybe two, three weeks I would say. It might've been longer," Faatz said.

Two days after getting checked out for what she thought was a gallbladder problem, Faatz felt chest pains. She knew she was having a heart attack. It was her third before turning 40.

"Sometimes, it's late -- they come too late," said Jamie Waterstripe.

Waterstripe is one of the Upstate nurses who started the Strong Women, Strong Hearts event. She says women can experience symptoms not typically thought of as serious or heart-related and end up waiting to seek treatment.

"They say, 'I just thought I had the flu, I was in bed all weekend, I waited until Monday to go to my doctor,'" Waterstripe said.

Women may feel nauseous, have back, jaw, neck or stomach pain, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness. Like men, they can also feel chest pain or discomfort.

In addition to doing things like eating right and getting plenty of exercise to help prevent heart-related illnesses, cardiac nurses say another important step is knowing your numbers.

"Know what your blood pressure is, your BMI, your height and weight calculations. Know your history," said Waterstripe.

As for Faatz, she's still on the go. She spent Saturday at the Strong Hearts event, telling her story.

"If we could prevent that, that would be very special to me, to know that I don't have to see somebody else go through what I do, what I've been through, and I don't want to have to take care of those people, because life is precious," said Faatz.

If you'd like more information on women's heart health, visit www.heart.org.

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