Mimi Scott loves to relax with her dogs, but she became increasingly stressed after two of them died and work pressures built up. One day she began having severe chest pain.
"For over an hour I could not catch my breath. I was of course panicky. Didn't know to do anything like I should have done, like call 911," Scott said.
She saw her doctor who told her she was suffering from a heart condition that's almost exclusive to women. Called Broken Heart Syndrome, it strikes after a devastating loss or stress.
"The tip of the heart stops moving completely and blood clots can form there," explained Dr. MaryAnne McLaughlin of Mount Sinai Hospital.
More women than men die each year from heart disease, often because they ignore symptoms. The American Heart Association says its decade-long Go Red for Women campaign to raise awareness has saved more than 600,000 lives.
One reason women die from heart disease: they don't call 911 or get to an emergency room when they start feeling symptoms. Often those symptoms are not what men feel, like pain in the left arm or the chest.
"If a woman doesn't have those symptoms, she's more likely to complain of severe nausea, severe fatigue, sweating, pain in the middle of the back when she walks up a hill or even to the jaw," McLaughlin said.
Doctors suspect the differing levels of hormones in men and women play a role in heart disease, but more research is needed.
Scott says next time she won't wait.
"You don't take your time to get people to help you or to get to a hospital," she said.
And she's exercising regularly and promising to listen more closely to her body.
Heart disease kills one out of every three women in America.
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