When I was 38, I got a virus. I was a healthy single Mom of 5 and I had just finished college. I was exercising – walking 4 mi a day, drank diet coke, but I still kept gaining weight. Then it was getting hard to breathe, so I took some allergy meds, but they did nothing. Slowly things got worse and I would wake up at night gasping for air, until I could only sleep sitting up.
When I went to the Dr., he did an EKG. When he came in to talk to me he had a shocked look on his face. He said “You have congestive heart failure.” I didn’t know much about that but my thoughts were – ok give me something so I get better. We waited too long to do something and I ended up in the hospital minutes away from dying. My ejection fraction was 18%. I still didn’t realize how bad it was. A couple days later, a nurse came into the room and she said, “You realize you’re going to need a heart transplant within 3 years.”. I’m like, WHAT? I have kids to raise yet. I went home after things were under control and got lots and lots of rest. That’s all I could do. I was on lots of meds for a couple years and they came out with a new one. The Dr had me try it and thank God it worked! I’ll be on meds the rest of my life, and my heart’s not normal, but it’s a lot better than it was. I’m leading a pretty normal life except I have CAD now. I have a stent, but all is well with that for now.
My message is - Know your body. If something seems off, get it checked. Don’t put it off. I waited 6 months before I went in. And also, remember the heart symptoms for women can be very different, sometimes, subtle. Just be aware and be educated. I’m 59 now and know a lot more than the average person about my body because I need to know what’s going on with me. I now have 15 1/2 grandchildren and proud of all of them.