The ProHeart Community

Survivor Stories

How did their heart event happen? What their recovery was like? And how have their lives now changed? Although the details differ, heart event survivors all share a common bond: a second chance at life. Explore the stories of real survivors.

"I was unaware that the initial symptoms I was experiencing were a heart attack."
"After having just undergone a complete physical, at the age of 42 and with no prior personal or family history of cardiovascular disease, I experienced two heart attacks. I was unaware that the initial symptoms I was experiencing were a heart attack, as the pain was in my left arm, my chest discomfort was similar to indigestion and my muscle pain was a stiff neck and shoulder. My 18 year old son suggested taking an aspirin, which I did and the pain subsided - though the pressure in my chest remained.

I waited two days before seeking medical attention and was then rushed by ambulance to the hospital. In the hospital, my doctors discovered a total blockage of my left anterior distending artery and I suffered a second large attack while on the operating table and received three stents. I have been placed on an aspirin regimen of 325mg, in accompaniment to my other medications."
"I took an aspirin, just in case, while waiting for the ambulance."
"I was working the evening shift at the hospital when I experienced symptoms similar to indigestion. After a few minutes of running the stairs, I was back at work and the pain was gone. The next evening, I experienced the pain again and called an ambulance for fear that I was having a heart attack. I took an aspirin, just in case, while waiting for the ambulance because I heard that people who may be experiencing a heart attack should chew a full-strength aspirin. By the time the ambulance arrived, I was completely pain free but upon arrival at the hospital it was confirmed that I had experienced a heart attack. The next day I was taken to the catheterization laboratory for an angiogram, which showed four blockages."
"I am thankful for each day and the opportunities it brings to share my experiences with others."
"I come from a family that has experienced the reality of heart disease for generations. My grandmother died early from heart disease, as did my mother and her six siblings. Even with this strong family history, I was in denial and felt I would somehow dodge the bullet. I was not as vigilant as I should have been with my own health. I became overweight, did not exercise, and failed to find the best ways to deal with my stress.

It should not have been a surprise when I had a heart attack at the early age of 52, on Christmas Eve. I was quickly diagnosed and life-lifted to Duke Hospital, where I underwent surgery to receive a cardiac stent. Needless to say - this experience was a wake-up call for me. I realized I was one of the lucky ones, so I took it upon myself to learn everything that I could about the heart and heart disease. I have been blessed with a beautiful family that I want to enjoy for years to come. It has been 10 years since that encounter. During that time I have lost 80 lbs.... and I am determined to keep it off with proper eating habits and exercise. My Bayer® Aspirin is part of my routine to stay healthy.

I now look at each day as a gift. I've been able to enjoy so many of the blessings that I might have missed out on: time with my wonderful supportive husband, seeing my son develop into a man that we are both so proud of, my daughter's graduation from high school and college, her marriage, my wonderful 3 year old grandson, and the delightful times with my sisters and friends at other events. I have worked with high school science teachers and students for years. I have the unique opportunity to assist students in gaining knowledge of the heart structure, function and health.

Currently, I work at NC Central University as the Outreach Coordinator for the BRITE Program. In this position I am able to work with students through out the state of NC. Over the past few years I have taken it upon myself to develop a Module to teach students about the heart called "The Beat Goes On" which focuses on the cardiovascular system. It identifies the genetic and environmental factors that influence an individual's likelihood of developing heart disease. Students learn about Sudden Cardiac Arrest and use EKG sensors to make graphical recordings of their heart's electrical events. I am thankful for each day and the opportunities it brings to share my experiences with others."
"I've changed my diet to minimize fat and salt. I'm learning to read labels and make healthy choices."
"Just 3 weeks ago, I was out on a 20-mile bicycle ride, which isn't uncommon for me. I'm 54, in reasonably good health (5'11", 195) and in the past few years have made attempts to eat more healthy. Yet, when I got back from my ride, I felt like I had - as bike riders say - "hit the wall". I felt tired and decided to get some food and something to drink at home. As I sat there, I noticed a slight burning in my esophagus. Sometimes during a bike ride I would slightly feel this, but accounted it as needing a break to let my lungs catch up with my riding. Yet this time, it wasn't going away. I described it as if I had swallowed a sharp tortilla chip sideways! The pain was enough to get my attention, but not enough to cause me to panic. I decided to take a shower and swallow a couple of aspirin. I cut my shower short, and the pain was still there. I realized that it was time to let my wife know. She immediately said, "Let's go to the Emergency Room at Stanford."

We were in the E.R. within 7 minutes, and I was being treated within 30 seconds of walking in the door. My blood pressure was 199/108. I received at least a dozen EKGs within 15 minutes' time, and was given sublingual Nitroglycerine, my pain remaining at about a 6 out of 10 throughout. There was no change, so they put me on an I.V. of Nitro, and took me for an angiogram. I must say that at this point, I just surrendered to whatever they needed to do. All concern for privacy, dignity and all that other guy-stuff paled in comparison to wanting them to solve the problem.

In the Cath Lab, they prepped me for an angiogram. I was told what the procedure would be. They were going to insert a wire into my femoral artery in my groin and then "snake" it up my artery in to my heart. They would then inject some dye into my heart so that my blood flow would show up on screen. It was then that I found that I would remain awake during the process. As I said, at this point, I had surrendered to whatever they needed to do. As the doctors injected the dye, the screen showed a blockage on my right coronary artery. The doctor leaned over and told me, "Your artery is blocked and we're going to fix it right now." The doctor inserted an angioplasty with a stent. During the installation, I felt a little bit more pain than before, but it didn't last very long. I was monitored in the Coronary Care Unit (the ICU ward for cardiac patients) and after a day's rest, was sent back to the Cath Lab to receive 3 more angioplasties for partially blocked arteries.

The next day, I was discharged with meds for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and an anti-clotting agent to keep things flowing through the stents in my heart. I was also given instructions for taking baby aspirin for the rest of my life. Looking back, I'm glad I heeded the warning signs and went to get checked at the hospital. I was told that I did the right thing. I've changed my diet to minimize fat and salt. I've cut out a lot of processed foods because they're packed with a lot of sodium. I'm learning to read labels and make healthy choices. I encourage you to learn from my experience and make the right choices while you have the choice to make!"
"My father and I have both lost weight and exercise regularly, and I have quit smoking."
"I'm 35 years old. Two years ago, I had a heart attack. My grandfather died at the age of 38 from a heart attack, when my father was 4 years old. My father didn"t know him and thus didn't really speak much about him. Unfortunately, without this information I smoked, drank, and ate what I wanted. Exercise was an afterthought and taking aspirin was pretty much a waste of time in my mind. I was wrong. I won't bore you with the story of the heart attack itself, although it is a rather interesting one.

What I will offer is this: don"t assume that you will not be affected. My father is 64 and he has been healthy his whole life. Last year - almost a year to the day - he had a heart attack. Both he and I have turned our lives around. We take Plavix, Lipitor, Lopressor, and a low-dose aspirin. Both of us have lost weight, I have quit smoking and we both exercise regularly and eat healthy. I was 33 years old... thirty-three... and I took a ride in an ambulance and was told to "call my family because you might not make it". If that's not enough to wake up, nothing is."
"It all comes down to listening - the cardiologist listening to us, and not just with their stethoscopes - and us listening to the cardiologist. Without both of these, there are no winners!"
"I am the 'poster child' for those who do not meet the heart risks normally listed, yet have heart disease. I began having heart issues 5 years ago, at age 51. I have never smoked, and the only family history is my father who had an angioplasty 40 years ago and an atrial fib last year, which was regulated by meds. I am not diabetic; I am not obese; I exercise every day (height: 5'2"; weight 110); I eat right; etc. Yet, my blood pressure is extremely low and my pulse too high. My symptoms are not "textbook" in that they are due to being born with heart birth defects, rather than related to those symptoms attributed to patients with plaque and blocked arteries. One of those birth defects was corrected by cardiac ablation. We are presently attempting to control the other two defects with meds, but it could still eventually lead to open heart surgery.

For five years now, I have passed every heart stress test, EKG, and many other heart tests, as cardiologists were looking for blocked arteries and the norm. My heart issues are not the norm by a long shot. I have been fortunate to have finally found a cardiologist (after firing four others for not listening) who understands that I am not "textbook." I have a message that women need to hear, so I recently wrote a book entitled, "Can You Hear Me Now: or Do I Need to Yell into your Stethoscope?" It all comes down to listening - the cardiologist listening to us, and not just with their stethoscopes - and us listening to the cardiologist.

It all comes down to listening - the cardiologist listening to us, and not just with their stethoscopes - and us listening to the cardiologist. Without both of these, there are no winners!"
"Yes, it is complicated, but with a positive outlook, relaxation techniques, such as meditation and Reiki, plus daily exercise, I am a survivor."
"I am a 16 yr survivor of a heart attack and I am a cardiovascular nurse. At 42, I had indigestion, not thinking of anything serious. After an hour of no relief from antacids, I went to the local ER. I was discharged, diagnosed with a hiatial hernia. Two weeks later, I had a similar event, went to another ER, discharged with "stress". It wasn't until I was at home in my garden that I got similar symptoms. Knowing that reproducibility of symptoms is a marker, I called a friend who is a cardiologist and was told to come to his office immediately.

My resting EKG was normal, but after a few minutes on the treadmill (stress echo) I had EKG changes. I went to the cath lab where I had an 80% stenosis of my LAD (left anterior descending artery). I was angioplastied and did well for a while. Five years later, I experienced right shoulder discomfort. I thought it was from my purse. Knowing that I have symptoms, I saw my cardiologist. This time, no heart attack, but I had a 99% tandem stenosis in my right coronary artery, and now have 3 stents. I exercise, eat well and know the signs to watch for. I am active in teaching heart health awareness in my community. I continue to work full time in the field of cardiovascular medicine.

Despite all of that, I am not immune to further heart attacks. To complicate this more, I have Lupus and recently had a kidney transplant with the complication of a DVT (deep vein thrombosis). Now I am on Coumadin for life. Yes, it is complicated, but with a positive outlook, relaxation techniques, such as meditation and Reiki, plus daily exercise, I am a survivor. I have applied twice for the WomenHeart program to be a speaker and attend their training symposium, but have never been selected. I have so much to tell about survival and how to live each day. Life and love conquer all obstacles. What I have learned is to give back. That is why I continue to teach, tell my story, talk to my patients and try to keep centered with survival. I have a very supportive husband and am well known in the medical community where I live and work. All of those factors are so important. Keep up the good work with this program."
"The one thing I did right was take aspirin that day."
"Even though there is a history of heart problems in my family on both sides, I never would have believed that I would suffer a major heart attack at the age of 47. I walked 7 miles a day and ran 3 miles, three times a week. I had run 3 miles the evening before and remember stopping by my parents' house and mentioning that my hands hurt and hoped I wasn't having a heart attack and then laughed and went on my way. I awoke the next morning feeling very sick but had atypical symptoms. My back ached, my hands still hurt, and it felt like every tooth in my head was aching.

I got up and went about cooking breakfast. My grandson had spent the night with us, so he was there. The longer I was up the worse I felt - but still never imagined "heart attack". I finally asked my husband to take me to the doctor and then changed my mind en route and requested the ER. We were pulled over for speeding and the State Trooper took one look at me and called an ambulance. It was then that I realized I was suffering a heart attack. The ambulance arrived within 2 minutes, pulling the gurney alongside the car and trying to help me get on it. I refused and told them I would walk to the ambulance under my own power and then get on the gurney. It was a busy highway, you know.

Upon arrival at the hospital, the ER physician suggested that I might have a pulmonary embolism and sent me off for an MRI. During the test, the ER nurse came back and whispered in the technician's ear that I was in the midst of an active MI. My LAD (left anterior descending artery) was 97% blocked. A stent was placed the following day and on the third day I suffered chest pain again. Another trip to the cath lab and I had my second stent. Five weeks later I was in Tulsa, OK shopping and had chest pain! The cardiologist there said that the lining of my artery was torn during the second stent placement and that they placed three additional stents to correct the situation.

In February of the following year ,the stent scarred over, so then I had my sixth stent all in the LAD and was told that since they were "wall to wall" my next step would be Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG). In August of 2008 I once again had scarring and at that point underwent CABG. The surgeon used a mammary artery for the graft but at this point it's been determined that it is atrophic and 5 weeks ago I had my seventh stent to reopen the native artery. I live with chest pain daily and take a time-released nitroglycerin to help ease the pain. Women, do not make the same mistakes I did. I'm facing a re-do of the CABG if this last stent scars over and I'm not looking forward to it. Know the signs, carry the aspirin, and request the correct tests if the ER physician doesn't order them. The one thing I did right was take aspirin that day and of course I had the good Lord on my side. Here's to long life and health.
"So my battles continue, but at least I am still alive."
"On June 13, 2006 I woke up in the middle of the night and felt like someone punched me in the back on the upper right side. I sat up and was dizzy, clammy and nauseous. I then threw up and felt better, so I laid back down, the whole time thinking I was having an allergic reaction to a new cholesterol medication I had been prescribed. I called the doctor the next morning and they said to come in, that my blood pressure could be too low. I couldn't drive as everything was kinda blurry so a friend took me. They did an EKG and gave me chewable aspirin and said I need to go to the hospital - because they are trying to stop me from having a heart attack.

At the hospital, they inserted a stent on the right side of my heart. I later found out that I was in cardiac shock and if I waited one more hour I wouldn't be here today. On June 14, 2006 I had my second heart attack in the ICU - at that time it felt like someone was standing on my chest and I couldn't breathe. They sent me home for a week to ensure I could withstand another procedure. On June 26, 2006 I went back in to have a stent placed on the left side of my heart. While in the middle of this procedure, an artery was ripped which caused my third heart attack, and they ending up inserting 3 stents vs. one or two. I was then in cardiac rehab on the treadmill and suffered my 4th heart attack.

I was admitted to the hospital on September 6, 2006 for an angiogram and was told I needed to have triple bypass surgery - so that was done on September 8, 2006. I still have two leaking valves in my heart (mitral valve prolapse with regurgitation) which causes too much pressure in my lungs. They don't want to fix them, as I am stable at the moment and am also a high risk for surgery. So my battles continue, but at least I am still alive."
"It made me value friendships with people who are as close as family to me."
"I had been driving a van for a wheelchair tennis tournament, picking up players from the airport in Los Angeles. A day before the start of picking up the players, I had to pick up a supply of bananas that were being donated by a suppler. The smog was so bad that I could not see across four lanes of traffic. I was choking and coughing as I called to verify directions with the tennis association and I could barely speak. During the two weeks of the tournament, I drove a large 15 passenger van with my left arm out the window instead of in my lap like I did in my very small two door coupe. So when I dropped off the last person, and was taking the van back to the rental location, I was not feeling very good. When I got back into my own car, my chest was sore and my left arm was severely aching. I of course thought it was from the severe smog and having my arm in a "different" position for two weeks.

But the pain was getting worse. I was two freeway exits from one of the best hospitals in Orange County, California, so I immediately drove there in my own car and pulled into the ambulance bay. They came out and brought me in. They hooked me up to a heart monitor and they said "You are having a heart attack". I went into full cardiac arrest and was dead for 97 seconds. This was at age 20 years, 2 months, 24 days, and an odd number of hours. I woke up in the CCU (cardiac care unit). Turns out that I had a blood clot from my "regular work" that involved a lot of plane travel (on average 14 flights a week), with a lot of sitting on planes. I obeyed all the rules, drink water, carbonated water, and juice (no caffeine and no alcohol), and I would get up as often as possible during the flights. But I had a deep vein thrombosis that broke off and caused the clot.

Luckily, I was at the right hospital - a hospital that had a great heart center and was on the cutting edge of technology. I was given TPA (Tissue plasminogen activator) and Streptokinase, two "clot buster" drugs that today are "first line treatment for heart attacks and strokes. I always ate very well, at 6'2", I was 176 pounds. I ate low fat, low salt, and only complex carbs. I played wheelchair tennis and wheelchair basketball quite often so I was very fit, so a heart attack was nowhere on my 'radar' given my health, my diet, and my age. But, given that before my heart attack at age 20, I already had partial paralysis due to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, my heart attack was just enough to cause me to "retire". I have kept my diet the best I can. It made me value the last years I had with my mother . (She died at age 56 in 1996, after a 9 year battle with Stage IV breast cancer). It made me value friendships with people who are as close as family to me."
"I truly believe that had I not been on an aspirin therapy I would not have survived these silent killers."
"On 17 Nov 2004, at the age of 50, I failed the most important test of my life - a treadmill stress test. On 22 Nov 2004, I underwent quintuple bypass surgery, where scars from three, possibly four, silent heart attacks were found. I truly believe that had I not been on an aspirin therapy I would not have survived these silent killers. When my doctor put me on statins, he also started me on aspirin. This was in my early forties. I try to eat healthy and exercise regularly. I also spend a lot of time educating women and men on how to live with and thrive with heart disease. My whole family has lived this journey through heart disease with me. At 25, my daughter, a working single mother and college student, had to add Caregiver to her already busy life, but we have all managed and here I am a survivor for almost seven years."
"I did 12 weeks of cardiac rehab, and 19 months after my heart attack I completed my first triathlon."
"Heart disease is something that I used to never really think much about, but in March of 2009, when I was 40 years old, heart disease found me. I woke up on March 30th, 2009, with classic heart attack symptoms - chest pain that radiated down my left arm and up into my jaw. I felt overheated and nauseated. I don't smoke, I'm not diabetic and don't have high blood pressure or clogged arteries. 15 months prior to my heart attack I'd already dropped over 22 pounds.

Initially, they told me that they didn't think I was having a heart attack: I was the wrong age (40), wrong gender (female), with no family history and no risk factors. It turns out that I'd experienced a rare thing called a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD). I did 12 weeks of cardiac rehab, and 19 months after my heart attack I completed my first triathlon, the Chapel Hill Ramblin' Rose, on Oct. 9th, 2010. I think I survived because I recognized my symptoms, insisted on getting to an ER, and the ER treated me as if I were having a heart attack, even though the initial tests were negative. Since then, I've made it my mission to get the word out to other women about heart disease, our #1 killer. And I take Plavix and aspirin regularly."
"I try to follow a diet low in fat (it can be difficult) and exercise. This whole life changing event has not been easy but I am taking one day at a time."
"I had my heart attack in March of 2010. I was shoveling snow, just as my husband was pulling in the driveway. I had this sensation below my sternum that I thought was indigestion but never said anything to him. I became very tired and had a little nausea. Went to bed that evening and awakened to use the bathroom. I chewed two baby aspirin and went back to bed. Twelve hours later, I decided to go to the ER knowing this could be something more than indigestion. Never saw it coming. Never knew I was walking around with four blocked arteries. I survived because of the man above. He gave me another chance in life. I try to follow a diet low in fat (it can be difficult) and exercise. This whole life changing event has not been easy but I am taking one day at a time. Thanks for letting me tell my story."
"I am now feeling great. I try to walk a couple of miles a day, eat healthy, and take aspirin regularly."
"I had just moved from California to Pennsylvania in 1994 and I was living with a friend. I woke up with a pain across the middle of my back which then moved to my chest, arms and jaw. I knew they were the symptoms of a heart attack, but I thought, "I am only 40 years old". My friend drove me to the hospital and sure enough, it was a heart attack. I had 2 blocked arteries and received 5 stents. In 2005, I was home sick and I was vomiting all day. That evening I awoke with severe chest pain, so my husband called 911 and again I had a heart attack. This time I received a triple bypass. I am now feeling great. I try to walk a couple of miles a day, eat healthy, and take aspirin regularly."
"Like thousands of women in the United States, my warning signs were not the same as a man's and were essentially ignored."
"I was 43 years old when I had a heart attack. Like thousands of women in the United States, my warning signs were not the same as a man's and were essentially ignored. I saw my Doctor six weeks before the event. My cholesterol was high but I was told I was exhausted because I was the mother of four. Exhausted was not even close to how I was feeling: I slept 12 hours a night and two hours during the day to just barely get by. I was hiking in Estes Park, Colorado when I was slammed to the ground. It felt like someone punched me in the chest. After being carried out by rangers, I was told there was nothing wrong.

When I got home, my doctor sent me to a cardiologist for a stress test which I passed with flying colors. I then walked out in the parking lot and had a heart attack. My husband pulled me back into the office where after yelling for help, the doctor came running. They got me in a room and did a quick echo and the first thing he gave me was chewable aspirin to take. I underwent an angioplasty. I have undergone 13 angioplasties in the last 11 years with 6 stents being placed and in August, I had to have quadruple by-pass surgery.

I feel great but I carry aspirin with me at all times and have told several people to keep it handy on them if they are at risk. It probably kept me from having a worse heart attack. Having a heart attack at 43 did not surprise me, really. My father died at 49 of a massive one. But even with my family history, I really did not take it seriously. It took until I was 49 to deal with weight and eating right. Now I take a statin, plant sterols and 81 mg aspirin. My cholesterol is down. Needless to say my kids all take care of themselves. They are quite active and as adults, try to stay active and eat well. I became a Women Heart Champion last October so I can tell women about heart disease. It has made this so much better as I have heart sisters to support me, but I also can teach others so they do not end up like me. Even after the heart attack, I was not told the importance of lifestyle changes, so now I really support that."
"I encourage everyone to check with their doctor whenever they have a pain in their chest because it could lead up to heart attack."
"I had my heart event in 2007. I came home from work, had my dinner and went to bed. I fell asleep but woke up feeling a tightness in my chest. I had some water to drink but that did not stop the feeling. It was as if I could not breathe. I tried to lie flat on my back, but could not because of the tightness in my chest and the pain in my shoulder and my neck. My son was there, but I did not say anything to him. He was only 19 years old at the time. So, I called my daughter who was not living with me and I told what was happening to me. She said, "Mommy, go straight to the hospital." So I went and told the doctor what happened.

They did some tests and found out the main artery was blocked. It was very, very bad, but thank God for the good doctors who saved my life. I am so grateful. I now take aspirin regularly with my other medication. I encourage everyone to check with their doctor whenever they have a pain in their chest because it could lead up to heart attack. I now try to eat healthy and take my medication (never miss my aspirin). Thank God for my life."
"The day before, I had been walking the beach alone and I kept breaking out in a cold sweat."
"It started on Sunday morning while getting dressed for church. I told my husband that I needed to go to the ER. The day before, I had been walking the beach alone and I kept breaking out in a cold sweat. I walked back to the house and showered, but continued to sweat off and on. This was an unexpected thing. I didn't even realize till the next morning that something wasn't right with the way I felt. I actually coded at the hospital but was revived. Since this event, I have had 7 heart attacks and two strokes. But actually, I am doing well. Yes, it changed my life, but most people who haven't seen me in a while don't know by looking at me that anything has happened. The reason I think I have survived all this is because of the will to live. I always have eaten healthy and exercised even though you may not think so by looking at me Medications has caused me to not be able to lose weight like I would like, but the Doctor keeps check on all of that."
"I quit smoking, eat better, and try to exercise which is a big downfall of mine."
"I was sitting in my chair and my arms hurt badly. I went to the ER and nothing showed up. I took aspirin and came home went to bed. The next day, my arms were still hurting. I called my doctor; he said go to another hospital ER. I did and sure enough I was leaking enzymes from my heart. He put 3 or 4 stents in because I was blocked badly. I have felt good ever since. I quit smoking, eat better, and try to exercise which is a big downfall of mine. I thank God everyday for each day and I appreciate and love my family more and more each day. I had no warning signs but for years my left arm hurt off and on and I felt sluggish. Thank God for my doctor and the meds he put me on to save my life."
"Please take my advice - don't ever smoke. It is now 6 years since my last cigarette and I will never pick one up again!"
"On June 5, 2005 I became very ill while I was driving. I had terrible sweating which I believed was food poisoning as I vomited for approximately 8 hours. I am a type 2 diabetic, so I called my doctor to say I cannot keep meds down. She sent me to the hospital for fluids. It was then determined I was having, at that time, my second of two heart attacks. I eventually had six stents placed in my heart and have been living a healthy life style since that point in my life. Unfortunately, in 2010, I required a pacemaker to be placed in me which I am living with each day. I thank God for every day that I have and live it to the fullest. My husband and family have given me the support I need, especially my loving husband. Please take my advice - don't ever smoke. It is now 6 years since my last cigarette and I will never pick one up again!"
"I'm more tolerant and less hyper about the everyday stuff."
"I am 41 with CAD. Here is how I found out: I was 11 weeks pregnant with my only child who is now just over one. I was at work and felt some morning sickness symptoms but I knew it wasn't morning sickness. I had not been sick at all at that point. I felt pressure on my chest, my shoulder hurt, I was sweating and sick to my stomach. I thought it was the Crab Bisque I had for lunch. I had one of my employees call the place where I got the bisque and they said it was fine. My employees were all insisting I was fine even though I was complaining that it could be my heart. "You are crazy," they said. They left my office and I snuck out to my car and drove to the ER. Of course being young and pregnant, the triage nurse didn't listen when I said I thought it was my heart. After waiting and waiting I insisted I be seen. I texted my husband of 8 months and asked him to call me. Next thing I know, I am having an EKG and the tech will not say a word. Then the ER doctor came and told me I was having a heart attack. I still can't believe it. I was rushed to the cath lab and I mentioned my being pregnant and everything stopped. At this time my hubby called and it must have been the drugs because I said "Oh hi, I had a heart attack, hold on"... I gave the phone to the doctor.

Long story short, I was treated and transported to a different hospital where I spent the next several days. As I was being wheeled out of the lab, many of my employees were there waiting. I yelled, "Told you so!" They checked my baby in utero and my son was fine! Three months after I had my baby I had the cath. I had a complete blockage, too late to stent and another artery blocked at 60%. I have CAD. Genetics unknown because I was adopted. I had a history of smoking and overall a diet high in fat (although I wasn't fat). I think I survived to bring my precious son into the world. Since the heart attack, I take Bayer Aspirin along with a statin and a beta blocker and coQ10. I watch my diet and I walk every day! I lost my job for exceeding the 12 weeks of FMLA but reducing that stress has probably helped too. Now I am still scared every day and always thinking another heart attack is looming, but I think of my son and my husband and hope for the best!"
"I was finally cleared to start a running program. My goal is to be healthy enough to run a 5k."
"I hadn't been feeling good for a couple months and was having trouble getting in to see my physician. I went to see a different doctor finally and was told there was nothing wrong. The following Tuesday, I went to urgent care where they x-rayed my right shoulder, chest and arm due to me complaining of excruciating pain. I was sent home with muscle relaxers and Vicodin. My heart failed within 14 hours the next morning. I was at work after a meeting. My boss and some other coworkers helped get me to my desk from the meeting room in the basement. By that time, I had stopped responding to people.

The ambulance was there fast but by then I have only bits and pieces of memory. I was told that the ambulance caught my heart attack on the EKG going to the hospital. I had two blocked arteries. They put a stent in one and the other had regrown new artery paths so they left it alone. I was very lucky and woke up three hours later in a cardiac unit with my husband by my side. I didn't even know I had a heart attack. My primary doctor was in total shock. I had never had any kind of heart problem before this - no signs or symptoms other than a very low HDL and slightly elevated LDL. I survived with minimal damage to my heart.

It has been little over a year since then and I have made drastic changes. The changes have helped but the biggest help has been finding out my own family history. I found out that all of my siblings except one had heart attacks at an early age. I didn't know that before. I am now on medicine to lower my cholesterol because even though I am a strict vegetarian, diet alone was not enough to lower my cholesterol. I also am on aspirin (Bayer) regimen now. I was finally cleared to start a running program two weeks ago. My goal is to be healthy enough to run a 5k in the fall of this year.

I don't know why I survived except everything went just right and I was able to get help in time. I presented on the wrong side effects (right side pain) but have since learned that women can present totally opposite of men. The whole experience has changed my outlook on things. I live life as if every day is a gift and take nothing for granted. I am not afraid to try new things. My husband, Jeff, has been wonderful through everything. He has helped me become a vegetarian and supports me in my exercise goals. My heart attack changed him too. He now takes his cholesterol medicine every night and is more apt to eat what I eat. He was a meat and potatoes guy before. I often think I survived to get my story out there to other women. We need to take charge of our own health and know that doctors are not perfect. My advice to everyone is know your family history - that coupled with some blood tests might keep you from having the heart attack in the first place"
"Since the heart attack, I take Bayer Aspirin along with a statin and a beta blocker and coQ10. I watch my diet and I walk every day!"
"I am 41 with CAD. Here is how I found out: I was 11 weeks pregnant with my only child who is now just over one. I was at work and felt some morning sickness symptoms but I knew it wasn't morning sickness. I had not been sick at all at that point. I felt pressure on my chest, my shoulder hurt, I was sweating and sick to my stomach. I thought it was the Crab Bisque I had for lunch. I had one of my employees call the place where I got the bisque and they said it was fine. My employees were all insisting I was fine even though I was complaining that it could be my heart. "You are crazy," they said. They left my office and I snuck out to my car and drove to the ER. Of course being young and pregnant, the triage nurse didn't listen when I said I thought it was my heart. After waiting and waiting I insisted I be seen. I texted my husband of 8 months and asked him to call me. Next thing I know, I am having an EKG and the tech will not say a word. Then the ER doctor came and told me I was having a heart attack. I still can't believe it. I was rushed to the cath lab and I mentioned my being pregnant and everything stopped. At this time my hubby called and it must have been the drugs because I said "Oh hi, I had a heart attack, hold on"... I gave the phone to the doctor.

Long story short, I was treated and transported to a different hospital where I spent the next several days. As I was being wheeled out of the lab, many of my employees were there waiting. I yelled, "Told you so!" They checked my baby in utero and my son was fine! Three months after I had my baby I had the cath. I had a complete blockage, too late to stent and another artery blocked at 60%. I have CAD. Genetics unknown because I was adopted. I had a history of smoking and overall a diet high in fat (although I wasn't fat). I think I survived to bring my precious son into the world. Since the heart attack, I take Bayer Aspirin along with a statin and a beta blocker and coQ10. I watch my diet and I walk every day! I lost my job for exceeding the 12 weeks of FMLA but reducing that stress has probably helped too. Now I am still scared every day and always thinking another heart attack is looming, but I think of my son and my husband and hope for the best!"
"I depend on Bayer aspirin to protect my heart and to reduce my risk of another blood clot."
"Before October 22, 2009 I had no idea what a pulmonary embolism was - nor did I care. To me, that was something that happened to the elderly and at 26 it didn't even touch my radar. My radar was off. I was 26 years old when the doctors gave me the news that I had a blood clot in my lung. At first I didn't think it was serious. I was in a lot of pain, could barely breathe, and yet thought I would be out of the ER in no time. I wouldn't be leaving Wood Winds anytime soon.

In my lifetime, I never thought I would hear my name followed by the words "code blue." The moment the blood clot was discovered, the staff was set into a fury. They explained, "You have a blowout in your lung. Some of your lung sacs ruptured." And then these words came: "You've suffered a very mild stroke." I never thought I would hear AmandaJean and stroke in the same sentence either. But I did. It was real and each moment was uncertain. Upon leaving the hospital, it set in. It set in that I was no longer the same. I felt jaded, cheated, and robbed of my youth. Everyone I encountered in the hospital said, "Wow, you really were born in 82. I am so sorry. You're young, you will bounce back." I get that a lot about being so young.

However, I am living proof that stroke and blood clots know no age. I depend on Bayer aspirin to protect my heart and to reduce my risk of another blood clot. Since my pulmonary embolism-induced stroke, I have started a heart-healthy vitamin K free organic diet and exercise regularly. I cannot run anymore but I do enjoy walks with my dog. I will not let my stroke define me; instead I choose to use it as a tool to educate other women about heart health. We only have one heart in this life and we need to take care of it. We are nothing without our hearts, so I choose to make sure my one and only heart is a healthy heart."
"The sunsets look so much better. Just remember life's challenges are all small when a heart event changes your life."
"I am 53 years old and a runner for 37 years. I weigh 175 and have no high blood pressure, but a family history of heart disease on my Dad's side and diabetes on my Mom's side. My diet has always been a balanced diet, not many sweets if at all. I thought what happened to me, due to the statistics above, would never have happened. I had just been given the "green" light by my primary doctor to resume running after 3 months and a walking boot for an ankle injury. My first run back at the end of April, I'm by myself, and at 4 1/2 minutes into the run I could not catch my breath and it felt like someone was placing their knee dead center of my chest (no pun intended). So I stopped and walked for 2 minutes, started again and the symptoms came back.

I had already scheduled my annual physical with my primary doctor, so I decided to stop and walk back to the truck. At my physical I told my doc about the symptoms I was feeling and he sent me to a cardiologist. One thing led to another, and after a stress test it was discovered that my "widow maker" was 75% blocked. My cardiologist said that if I had not been putting my heart on its own stress test each run, this problem would not have occurred until I was 60 and it very well could have been fatal. Running saved my life. I am most thankful for the health care industry and the professional services they provide. It was all very good actually, excellent. I am very happy to say that "Life is Good," and I am an example to my family and friends to think about getting a stress test and to listen to your body and your heart, as I have learned. To just imagine what would have happened if I tried to push through it. My wife and 2 kids would have had one less in our very close family. The sunsets look so much better. Just remember life's challenges are all small when a heart event changes your life."
"Since then, I am in the process of quitting smoking and trying to lose weight - which is hard. I now take an 81mg aspirin regularly."
"I am a 43 year old female who has been a nurse for 17 years and works in a doctor's office. I was sitting at home on May 15, 2011 when I had severe pain in my chest, radiating to my left arm. I ended up in the emergency room when I asked my children to take me. I truly believe that if I had not chewed that 325mg aspirin when I started having the chest pain then it would have been a different story altogether. They did a complete work up and sent me home with Nitrostat to use as needed. I continued to have chest pain on and off. The doctor I work for insisted that I go see a cardiologist (I'm very thankful that she did insist). I did see the cardiologist and had my stress test - and then I had my first cardiac cath where they found that I had a 100% blockage in my left main artery and 80% in my left descending artery.

The cardiologist refused to do open heart surgery at that time and placed 2 stents. He told me that I would need to come back in thirty days to do phase two because I had two more blockages that I needed fixed. I went back on July 12, 2011 and they found that my main artery was 90% blocked and he placed a stent there along with 4 more stents in my right coronary artery. During the time that he was putting the stent in my main artery, I did have a mild heart attack. During both cardiac caths, the doctor stated that he did not know why I had not had a heart attack before and both times he refused to do open heart surgery. He stated that I was too young. Since then, I am in the process of quitting smoking and trying to lose weight - which is hard. I now take an 81mg aspirin regularly. I have a lot of family support but they sometimes treat me as if I am fragile. I love them all but I wish things could be different. It should be me that worries about them, not them worrying about me."
"Life is precious and we women take care of everyone else before we take care of ourselves. It is time to take care of yourself."
"I was working full time, married, and taking care of a two year-old step granddaughter with cerebral palsy. I went to see my mitral valve heart doctor and complained of being tired all the time, heartburn, and falling asleep by 7:30 PM every night. It was a hot summer in Alabama, and when I went outside I had trouble breathing. He put me on the treadmill and I flunked - I couldn't stay on it more than a couple of minutes. He informed me I may have a blockage, and 3 days later I had an arteriogram. This was on Thursday, September 21, 2000. The technician asked me how I was able to walk around, and after giving me a sedative he informed me that I had a 95% blockage in the main artery to my heart and 50% in a second one! He told me I was a walking miracle and I could have had a massive heart attack at any moment.

I was rushed to the hospital next door from the doctor's offices at about 8:45 am and I had double bypass surgery around 2 pm that day. I was told by my surgeon that he fixed a healthy heart - there was no damage from the heart attack and I should live a normal life now. I have since had both carotid arteries cleaned out because I was very proactive on my heart health and other arteries. My grandfather got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and dropped dead of a massive heart attack... he was probably not much older than I am now! We live in a day of wonderful technology - we take advantage of it and are Pro Heart. I will be 63 in January and I thank God every day that I am still here to enjoy my children, grandchildren and coming along now great-grandchildren. Life is precious and we women take care of everyone else before we take care of ourselves. It is time to take care of yourself, especially if you have any family members that had any heart issues in their lifetime."
"Bottom line... don't let a doctor tell you how you feel. Even if you think you might be having a heart attack, go to the ER. Better safe than sorry!"
"I was 47 years old when I had my heart attack. For about a year, I had been complaining to my doctor about pain on my left side. Without a single check for anything cardiovascular, he sent me for physical therapy! Aside from having borderline high cholesterol, I had no other risk factors. I've always been a little underweight and very active. On the day I had my heart attack I just felt a slight pain in the middle of my chest - the feeling like when you swallow something wrong. I also have GERD so I didn't think anything of it at first, but as the minutes went by I started to feel a little out breath and dizzy so I drove myself to the ER (NEVER do what I did... call an ambulance!)

From the time I entered the hospital waiting room to the cath lab, it was 40 minutes. They knew it was a heart attack but I refused to believe it until I was in that lab having stents put in my heart. About an hour after having the stents put in, I was in the Cardiac ICU and my children were there crying. Even though 5 years have passed, I can't forget the day and I never will. There is always the fear it will happen again. I take meds now which includes a Bayer aspirin regularly. Bottom line, ladies - don't let a doctor tell you how you feel. Even if you think you might be having a heart attack, go to the ER. Better safe than sorry! Remember, it isn't like you see on TV. Women have different symptoms than men and we tend to wait longer. Have your heart checked ASAP."
"I talk to women about the different symptoms we have from men and to NOT ignore any strange feelings."
"In June of 2008 I was feeling good and working hard in the yard. As the week progressed, I started having unusual clenching in my left jaw. Then I felt a tightening behind my left breast and it would go into my left armpit. There was no pain so I ignored it for a few days - until one night it kept me awake so I told my husband we better go to the ER. When I got there, I was having a massive heart attack , but still no pain. They did an angio and found the main artery to my heart 100% blocked. I went to emergency surgery and the anesthesiologist accidentally severed my carotid and I bled out.

They told my family I was too critical to do the surgery. They waited and prayed for 15 hours and a nurse came out and told them there was a miracle. I was stable. They did the surgery and I woke up 10 days later. At my first echo they discovered a tumor in my heart. It is slow-growing and I have faith I will outlive it. I give God all the glory that I survived. I was a healthy eater before, so my diet hasn't changed that much. I value my life and family more now and I am closer to God. I don't know why He let me live but I am so thankful and try to live my life to please Him. I talk to women about the different symptoms we have from men and to NOT ignore any strange feelings."
"This experience has humbled me and has opened my eyes to the little things in life, and that every day is truly a gift."
"I had my heart attack at age 42. The only symptom was left arm pain and a slight burning in my chest. The morning that it happened, my arm felt heavy and then the pain started. I went to the ER and the doctor there was treating me for tendonitis. He was on the verge of releasing me when a wonderful nurse asked for a second EKG - and as they were administering the EKG I went into my heart attack. The quick judgment of that nurse and the TPA shot are what saved my life. The doctors told my wife that if she had taken me out of the hospital that I would have definitely died on my way home in the car with her. I was transported to a major medical facility 4 hours away and I needed 4 bypasses and then 5 years later I needed a pacemaker/defibrillator. This was implanted because I had a condition called heart block.

I survived this event also because of prayers, a supportive family and wonderful cardiologists. I have since then had 4 stents put in to keep my arteries flowing. I also use a nitro patch 24/7 and take my medication faithfully. I have inquired about a transplant but I also suffer from COPD so I am not a candidate. I have outlived their prognosis of 5 to 7 years. I thank God every day for the wonderful research and new techniques and skilled doctors. I am a survivor. I had the blessing of having a very knowledgeable wife who had advocated for me and continues to do so at this time. I am so happy I have seen my first grandchild grow to be 5 years old. This experience has humbled me and has opened my eyes to the little things in life, and that every day is truly a gift. The picture is of me and my grandson. What a gift."
"I began having severe chest pains. I could not breathe, was excessively sweating and a had a very difficult time trying to talk."
"At the age of 27, I was home cleaning on my day off from work. I began having severe chest pains. I could not breathe, was excessively sweating and a had a very difficult time trying to talk. After about 10 minutes, I called my dad who had just got home from work (and luckily lived less than a mile from my home). I tried to explain what I was feeling. My father had a heart attack at the age of 40 so he felt I needed to go to the ER immediately. After being admitted to the hospital and testing had been performed to check my enzyme levels, the levels indicated I was having a heart attack. Several hours later I was then transferred to a different hospital where they then preformed a heart cath. That is when we learned I not only had 100% blockage in one artery but it had already made a new artery. I also had a blood clot in the "widow maker" part of my heart. The blood clot was extracted and a stent placed.

The damage done to my heart was irreversible and left me with about 25% ejection fraction working. I was placed on a machine for about 3 days to keep my artery open. When finally moved to a regular room and ready to be discharged I could only be released if I was wearing a machine called a life vest. This machine is an external defibrillator. The only way my cardiologist would let me remove the vest was if my ejection fraction reached around 35%. After 3 LONG months he was satisfied enough for it to come off. Since then, my husband and I were expecting our first baby - 5 months after my heart attack. None of my doctors were excited about this. The baby and I made it through the pregnancy just fine. When my son was 2 months old I was scheduled for a heart cath again. That is when we learned I was pregnant again. Needless to say this was very unexpected and the doctors even more upset this time. Again my second son and I made it through just fine (with the help of some amazing doctors). When my youngest was 5 months old I finally had my heart cath. I was pleased to find out there was no blockage but my ejection fraction was back down to 20-25%. My doctor scheduled me for an ICD placement. It has been 7 months since my surgery and I am still going strong. Recently I was asked to share my story with The American Heart Association for the Go Red for Women campaign. That is where the picture was taken."
"I then went in the kitchen and took Bayer Aspirin just in case I was having a heart attack. Boy was I ever right!"
"I am a manager for a major retailer and have a high-stress job. I had been working longer than normal hours because Black Friday was coming up soon. I felt badly all week, like I was getting the flu. I worked late Friday night and when I got home I told my wife that I really felt bad, ached all over, had a head ache, and just felt terrible! All flu symptoms. I ate a little chicken soup and toast to try and settle my stomach and went to bed. At about 2 am I woke up having a hard time breathing and couldn't get comfortable. I was pacing the floor and felt like I had been hit by a truck! I woke up my wife and told her to take me to the hospital! I then went in the kitchen and took Bayer Aspirin "just in case I was having a heart attack". Boy was I ever right!

My wife called the paramedics. They got to our home in just minutes and they gave me nitroglycerin tablets, an IV and oxygen. It was pouring out and I have two cocker spaniels who decided to go for a walk during all of this. Our local police officer, who came with the ambulance, took off after the boys and the last thing I saw as I was being loaded into the ambulance was our dogs coming around the corner with a police car (with all its lights going) following close behind! They had a look on their faces I will never forget. The paramedics got me stable en route to the hospital. I was checked out and later transported to Toledo Hospital where I had a triple bypass done. The doctor said that I was smart when I took the Bayer Aspirin! I now exercise and watch my diet. My father died from a heart attack and cerebral hemorrhage. My sons have all changed their diet and exercise programs and I have a great wife who supports me in my quest for good health. I am also a colon cancer survivor!"
"I now take a low dose Bayer Aspirin regimen and I was told that the aspirin I was given during my heart attack helped save my life! Thanks for being there for me Bayer!"
"On 11/18/2009, I had just finished an early morning duck hunt with my buddy and then went deer hunting. Up until this point I was a healthy 41 year old male who worked out every day, worked on the railroad and walked an average of 3-8 miles a work day. I had no warning signs. We stopped hunting that morning to take a break. I was flossing my teeth and when I finished the left side of my lower jaw started to hurt, and then it was accompanied by a heartburn sensation in the center of my chest. I was 7 miles from my doctor's office and I drove straight there - and as soon as I walked in I was immediately taken back and was told I was having a heart attack.

My doctor gave me Bayer Aspirin and nitro while waiting on the ambulance. The closest hospital was Moore Regional in Pinehurst, N.C., normally a 40 minute ride. I was later told that they got me there in 18 minutes and that I suffered sudden cardiac death 8 times. The first was in the ambulance and the rest were in the ER and cath lab, but by the grace of God I was brought back each time. I had a stent placed in my right coronary artery and was told by my doctor that I had a complete blockage and it was a miracle I was alive. I now take a low dose Bayer Aspirin regimen and I was told that the aspirin I was given during my heart attack helped save my life! Thanks for being there for me Bayer!"
"I have been told by several of the doctors that taking the Bayer Aspirin probably saved my life. I now carry Bayer Aspirin in my pocket at all times."
"While alone and returning from a business trip to my home in a remote area of central Colorado I suffered severe chest pain, but since I was driving and miles from the closest medical assistance I decided to drive on. I arrived in a small town close to my home and drove into the only convenience store in the town and stumbled inside. My wife Donna, a cardiac nurse for over 35 years, had told me that aspirin was the best "stop gap" medication I could take in case of a heart attack. I purchased a small bottle of Bayer Aspirin, took two and chewed them up. The local voluntary EMS was called and I was transported to the Salida, Colorado hospital. Later that evening after being somewhat stabilized, I was life lifted to Colorado Springs where I underwent bypass surgery. I have been told by several of the doctors that taking the Bayer Aspirin probably saved my life. I now carry Bayer Aspirin in my pocket at all times. I have since quit smoking. My wife and I have become closer and I am much closer to my children and grandchildren."
"I now swim twice a week and walk my dog around the neighborhood when I can."
"I recently had open heart surgery. I was in the hospital getting my ulcerative colitis under control when my doctors discovered I had an irregular heartbeat. I started to get nervous, but luckily I had my husband there with me for support. I had an echo-gram done and they discovered a sizable mass in my lower right ventricle. When the cardiologist told me what they found they named it a fibroblastoma. When the surgeon removed it on May 29th, 2012 it ended up being a 2cm in diameter blood clot. It was attached to my inside wall close to my valve doors in my right chamber. Thank goodness for my angels in heaven looking out for me because I could have suffered a stroke or a massive heart attack.

I am now on a low dose aspirin regimen for the rest of my life. It's been 2 months since my surgery and I have changed my diet; low sodium and low fat intake. Without my husband for support, I probably wouldn't have made such a fast recovery. I now swim twice a week and walk my dog around the neighborhood when I can. I think that I survived because I have a few angels watching out for me. If I hadn't gone to the hospital I might not be here now. I am very thankful for the surgeon that saved my life the nurses that took care of me and very thankful to my husband for his never-ending support and love!"