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Elizabeth Wesley’s Story

Cardiac Arrest Survivor, Age 49, Aurora, IL

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Elizabeth's Story

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!

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Elizabeth is interested in giving and receiving support from other women with heart disease. Contact her if you'd like to give and receive support.

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