“Make it worth something, kid.” These are words of wisdom Rosie O’Donnell gave in one of her interviews referring to her heart attack. O’Donnell had suffered a prolonged heart attack, failing to call 9-1-1 for over 24 hours. The type of heart attack O’Donnell had is often referred to as “The Widow Maker.”
A “Widow Maker” is a nickname used to describe an artery of the heart. This term is used because if the artery gets abruptly and completely blocked it will cause a massive heart attack that will likely lead to sudden death.
The blockage that kills is made up of platelets streaming to the site of a ruptured cholesterol plaque. Even a small amount of plaque in this area can rupture and cause death; bypassing chronic blockages or trying to open them up with angioplasty does not prevent heart attack but it can restore blood flow in case of a sudden blockage or heart attack.
From the minute a Widow Maker hits, survival time ranges from minutes to several hours. Symptoms of initial onset may include nausea; shortness of breath; pain in the head, jaw, arms or chest; and numbness in fingers, often of a novel but imprecise sensation which builds with irregular heartbeat. Early symptoms may be mistaken for food poisoning or flu until they intensify.
A Widow Maker cannot kill instantaneously but can induce cardiac arrest, which may do so within 10 to 20 minutes of no circulation. Heartconscious families are also in possible risk due to genetic heart traits passed down.
Although most college kids are not worrying about heart attacks at this point in their lives, parents should always be a main concern in the backs of their minds while they are away at school. Families that keep mass amounts of junk food in the house along with no exercise are putting themselves in possible danger for current or future heart issues.
Due to her recent heart attack, O’Donnell has become a new spokesperson for the Bayer Aspirin campaign. During her heart attack she took a Women’s Bayer Aspirin to help with the pain she was experiencing. Aspirin, along with refraining from using tobacco products, actively exercising, eat a heart healthy diet, maintain a healthy weight, and getting regular health screenings can all reduce your chances of a heart attack.
When asked if there were any concerns in regards to her parents having heart attacks, Casey Donovan said, “Yes, my dad still works out and plays hockey but has high cholesterol and blood pressure. He takes a lot of medication for his issues but is also still a bit over weight and has a lot of stress with his job. My mom has stopped smoking but smoked for years. I am nervous for the previous smoking to catch up with her, although she is at a good weight. Neither sides of the family are prone to heart attacks”.