Is this the face of a heart attack survivor?
At first glance you would never think this healthy, young woman was honored at this year’s GO RED event at Athens Regional as a heart attack survivor. This isn’t the face of a heart attack victim! This is the face of a survivor.
To help raise awareness for women she agreed to tell the story of how she came to have emergency quadruple by-pass surgery just three weeks after her 40th birthday.
It was 1 a.m. and she was home, alone, with her 2-year-old daughter. The pain started in her left jaw and was much like a toothache or bad earache. Eventually, the pain moved down her left side of her neck and her throat felt constricted. The pain in her left arm worsened and intensified. Heart attack? It never entered her mind. After all, she had no chest pain, nausea or vomiting. She thought it was an anxiety attack – the worst attack she’d ever had – but an anxiety attack none-the-less. She had no family history of heart disease. She was healthy. Well, she was prescribed medication for high blood pressure but since she felt fine that just seemed like a waste of money. Heart attack? Her? Never.
Yet, it was a heart attack.
Described as the most emotional time in her life, this survivor still battles the very strong emotions of fear, disbelief, anxiety and sadness. For years after the surgery, the depression was almost worse than the physical aspects of her ordeal. To think that at any minute you could die is a hard thing to accept. Faced with her own mortality, she began to look at life a little differently. Now, she takes her blood pressure medicine every day. She’s learned to eat healthier, get exercise and realizes that she has to take care of herself FIRST so that she can take care of those she loves. Her ordeal has left her stronger and looking at life with just a bit more appreciation.
Athens Regional Health System urges you to know more about the warning signs of heart attacks and to know more about what to do if you think you or a loved one has heart attack symptoms. Visit www.athenshealth.org/CardiacVascular for more information.