I was pleased to see Sen. Scott Cyrway’s piece on Sept. 26 concerning heart disease (Maine Compass, “Knowing heart attack symptoms saved my life”).

As a nurse with 34 years of practice, I know that cardiac symptoms are often easy to attribute to other problems, such as heartburn or simply having worked too hard.

Even a physician I worked with years ago confided that he was not sure he was having a heart attack (he was). He was surprised that he was unable to recognize clearly that he was having a heart attack, “And I’m a physician,” he told me, “what must it be like for someone with no medical background?”

It is imperative to seek help when experiencing symptoms that include, but are not limited to, chest discomfort and chest pain. Some experience the pain as heartburn or even back pain. Others may not even use the word pain, but may use other descriptive words, such as tightness, feeling anxious or lightheaded.

Education for the sake of our families and for ourselves is vital, and so is having a primary care provider.

Sen. Cyrway’s personal piece was most welcome. His experience underscores the importance of access to health care for all Mainers, as no one is immune from heart problems and other health issues.

It is good that Sen. Cyrway will be in his legislative seat in the upcoming session. I thank him for sharing his experience with us.

Sally Melcher-McKeagney


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