On December 24, 2013 I suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 49. I had no symptoms, little family history, and my only risk factor was I was overweight. My daughter and I were busy preparing for our Christmas meal. I sat down on my couch and told my husband I didn’t feel good. I decided to go upstairs and lay down for a little bit. By the time I got upstairs, I began throwing up, sweating profusely, and feeling a weight in my chest. At first, my husband asked if I wanted him to take me to the hospital, and I agreed. Less than a minute later, I told him to call 911. The paramedics arrived quickly and stabilized me. At first, they felt I was having an issue with my blood sugar, but as we pulled into the hospital, the EKG showed other problems. I don’t remember another thing until I woke up in ICU 4 days later. In the interim, I was shocked 41 times and given CPR for 1 hour. Those very same paramedics were the ones who kept the compression going. I had a blocked left anterior descending artery, “the widow maker”. My wonderful cardiologist, Dr. Mamata Alwarshetty, took me into the cath lab with the tiniest pulse, performed a balloon angioplasty and placed a stent in my artery. I am told with lifestyle changes, I will live a long and healthy life.
I am encouraging all of my friends to have their heart health checked along with their mammograms and pap smears. I never even thought that heart disease was something I should be worried about. We are so concerned with taking care of everyone else, that we neglect our own bodies and the signals they are sending us. I am expected to make a full recovery, but I know many women who will not. Everyone in my family is also going to learn CPR. If not for the paramedics continuing the compression, I would have either died or possibly had brain damage.
I will happily wear red on February 7, 2014 to remind everyone that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. Don’t become a statistic – become heart healthy!