Usually people associate 10-year anniversaries with loving marriages or tenure at a great company. This year I celebrate the 10th anniversary of the year I was spared from a life threatening heart condition. Today I still live with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD) – a rare heart disease that is a leading cause of sudden death in athletes. But thanks to so many of my friends and family, their generous donations to the Heart Association are contributing to research and hopefully – someday – a cure.
On my 31st birthday I was on my bike, training for an upcoming triathlon. As I was cresting a hill my heart started beating erratically (at almost 300 bpm) and wouldn’t normalize. After paramedics arrived and “shocked” me with an external defibrillator and doctors scratched their heads for about a week, I was diagnosed with ARVD. Although the disease is progressive and there is no cure (right now, anyway), doctors were able to implant an internal defibrillator and give me some great drugs
Ten years later I tell my story to anyone who will listen. We need to take care of ourselves and push our doctors to take all steps necessary to identify and treat heart disease in women. I hear too many stories of women with “heart problems” who go to their doctor only to be sent home after being told “it’s just stress.” Be proactive; love your heart!