Two women tell two very different personal experiences of how heart disease silently haunted them.
At just 37, Kim Bradley was shocked to learn she was diagnosed with heart failure.
She had been feeling tired and weak, spending the majority of her weekends sleeping. But on August 17, she was rushed to the Mercy Fort Scott Emergency Department with what she thought was a panic attack. It was a full-fledged heart attack and she was transferred by helicopter to Mercy Joplin where she received three stents to open the blocked vessels.
Kim knew her condition was serious. Her symptoms were classic: chest pain, weakness in the arm, and profuse sweating. But it didn’t click that she could be having a heart attack at her age.
In less than three months, Kim arrived back in the ED with shortness of breath. Her lungs were filling with fluid. She had a second heart catherization that determined her heart was enlarged and functioning at only 35 percent.
Looking back, Kim realizes her list of risk factors were a clear prediction: her family tree was littered with heart disease; she was taking a low-dose of medicine to control her blood pressure; and she had smoked for 24 years.
In contrast, at age 65 Anne Beth brushed aside her symptoms until she finally mentioned to her doctor the tightness in her chest while she was walking. A quick stress test and echocardiogram proved the need for further testing. Shortly thereafter, a heart catherization showed her heart was functioning at a mere five to 10 percent. She was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and severe aortic stenosis.
“I would lie down and I’d have problems breathing, Anne explained. “Other than that I had no pain and didn’t feel physically limited at all.”
“It’s important that women understand that heart disease isn’t always a heart attack,” she continued.
Anne was born with a Ventricular Septal Defect, a hole between the bottom two heart chambers, but never had any problems from the condition. She had a heart catherization 41 years ago while she was pregnant, and had been taking blood pressure medicine since she was 28, but she said, “Perhaps over time, I just adapted or didn’t pay attention.”
“Now I clearly live by my cardiac rehab nurse’s mantra: ‘Listen to your body. Be honest with yourself. If something isn’t normal, take notice and tell your doctor.’”
Fortunately, Kim and Anne share good outcomes and both have made significant lifestyle changes. Both exercise regularly, have modified their diet and Kim has quit smoking…for good.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, heart disease continues to be the number one killer among Americans with nearly 600,000 dying annually from affects of this condition.
In conjunction with National Heart Month, Mercy Hospital Fort Scott is offering a free “Go Red For Women” lunch and learn on Thursday, February 25 from noon – 1 p.m. in the McAuley Conference Center at Mercy Hospital Fort Scott.
Join Mercy Heartcare cardiologist Dr. Jose DeHoyos to learn how women’s symptoms of heart disease are very different from a man’s and what risk factors you may be ignoring.
The event is open to the public. Pre-registration is required by February 22. Call 620-223-8094 to make reservations.
For more information, contact Tina Rockhold at firstname.lastname@example.org.