Listen to Your Heart & Never Ignore These Symptoms

A Lesson for American Heart Month

Aabye-Gayle F.
8 min readFeb 28, 2023
It’s much easier to smile in an ER with friends like Ben & Lisa in my corner. {Photo by Ben}

On this, the final day of American Heart Month, the heart is very much on my mind. In the days leading up to and following Valentine’s Day, my heart was trying to tell me something, but I either didn’t understand the language it was speaking or had it on mute.

Not many people correctly interpret the warning signs when a woman is having a cardiac event. It can present very differently for women compared to men.

Here’s what happened to me and how I finally got the message my heart was sending me:

I landed in Florida on Valentine’s Day. A group of us had planned a trip to visit a friend, rent a house, and play copious (perhaps inadvisable) amounts of beach volleyball. We had our first session of games the evening we all landed. I felt like I was getting winded more easily than I’m used to, but I chalked that up to playing outside after playing indoors for so long.

Later, at dinner, I had a bit of an upset stomach. Not quite nauseas, but odd and uneasy. I knew I was hungry, but I didn’t have much of an appetite. Nothing on the menu (even things I usually like) looked appetizing. I thought I was just being a New York snob, especially when my salad came and the pears were canned. My heart sank. I almost…