This link has inspired me to do a thought experiment, follow me down the rabbit hole for a second:
I’ve long wondered if this - the fact that women don’t recognize the symptoms of a heart attack in themselves or other women, and consequently don’t get the fast care that is vital for heart attack survival - could be a reason heart disease is the #1 killer in women. Women statistically take better care of themselves health-wise, than men do. Women see doctors more frequently and are more likely to follow those doctors’ recommendations closely. So why wouldn’t women be at least as good at caring for their hearts as men?
Heart attack symptoms in men are well known, we witness them all the time on TV. We all know what it means when a guy clutches his chest or left arm and falls over, gasping for breath. This scene is often followed by a rush to the emergency room in an ambulance, and a shirtless guy being shocked back to sinus rhythm with electric paddles. “CLEAR!” Right? Everyone knows that’s what a heart attack looks like. Because of TV.
Except you can’t show a topless woman on TV - and you can’t defibrillate a woman in a bra. So victims of heart attacks on TV are *always* male. Did you know that a woman having a heart attack is more likely to have back or jaw pain than chest or left arm pain? I didn’t - because I’ve never seen a woman having a heart attack. I’ve been trained in CPR and Advanced First Aid by the Red Cross over 15 times in my life, the videos and booklets always have a guy and say the same thing about clutching his chest and/or bicep.
And people laugh when I tell them women are still invisible in this world.
UPDATE: So, it’s been brought to my attention that the language/information in both the original article and my commentary is not trans* friendly, and for my part of that, I sincerely apologize.
I’m not a doctor and I don’t know how a heart attack would present itself in a M2F or F2M on hormone therapy, or with any other medical differences that affect this kind of thing. I also don’t know if there’s been enough research for the medical community at large to know either - cursory googling hasn’t given me any satisfactory info. If this affects you, I’d recommend asking your trusted physician. Talk about being invisible.
UPDATE 2: This post is the most popular thing I’ve ever said anywhere. I couldn’t be happier that this message has reached so many people.
It may seem insignificant to talk about TV in so serious a conversation as that of women’s heart health, but this stuff has far-reaching, real-life consequences.
I’m really glad people are using my post as a reason to educate themselves on heart attack symptoms and to think critically about the quality of representation of women, women’s health, and women’s bodies in the media we consume.