When your week begins with an ambulance ride and a Nitro prescription...

It began as a normal Monday and ended up with a call to 911, an ambulance ride to Mercy and hours in the ER to simply leave without answers. I started the week with the excitement of Go Red coming up on Friday and ended up truly understanding why February, Heart Month is so important.  As we sat and ate supper, I started to have severe pain in my left neck that radiated down my left arm. All I could think of is "not again!" I looked at Joe and told him what was going on, and we both decided to call 911. While we waited for the paramedics, I kept thinking about the odds that this could happen twice in two years? Is it stress? Heartburn? Gas? Ironically, almost two years since my last heart attack, Ryan the paramedic comes into my house and say "hey, we have to stop meeting like this." 

On a side note. You can take it from me. The fear of embarrassment subsides quickly when help arrives. Plus, it keeps the neighbors on their toes when the neighborhood is lit up like a 4th of July parade. What can I say, humor can be the best medicine.

They ran an EKG; Troponin levels were drawn, chest x-ray and a CT scan to rule out another dissection. All were normal thank GOD! But that's when it truly gets scary, what is it? Over and over I explained to the doctors and nurses that this is what happened the week before my last Dissection (S.C.A.D. Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection).  Two years ago, I went to the doctors, and they kept telling me I must have slept wrong on my neck and they tried to give me muscle relaxants. No cardiac workup was done. At that time I would have never dreamt that it was my heart. 

Monday night I was sent home from the ER and told that everything looks good and it must be a musculoskeletal pain. You have to be kidding me! Joe and I were beyond frustrated! We wanted answers and most of all a guarantee that it was going to be ok. I knew it was time to get ahold of my cardiologist.  

On the car ride home that night Joe and I kept saying over and over to each other that this is what  I had two years ago same exact pain.  Why won't the doctors listen? We were beyond frustrated and concerned. As I laid my head on my pillow that night all I kept praying  was "please God let me wake up tomorrow!" I called my cardiologist the next morning, and he had answers.

The problem, nobody knows what causes dissections and what you can do to prevent them.  So, Cardiologists are treating the symptoms with cardiac medicines indicated for other problems. Leading me to my new Nitro prescription. My doctor thinks that my neck pain on Monday night is due to a spasm in my coronary artery or a small dissection that is not large enough to cause EKG changes, cardiac enzyme changes or need cardiac interventions. With small dissections, your body has a natural way of healing them without the need for cardiac intervention. As my Cardiologist stated " we can go into the cath lab and look but you just end up chasing them." During this time,  your body sends out pain signals, i.e. my neck pain to let me know that something is going on.  Almost a week later and my neck still hurts, and I'm experiencing sporadic chest pain. With time, I hope this pain will go away.

So remember, February is HEART MONTH for this reason. Women's heart attack symptoms don't just slap you in the face and say "hey, she's having a heart attack!" Many times its very subtle changes in the way you feel that makes you question what's going on. Be your advocate. Question medical staff and ask for a second opinion. If you’re not comfortable with what you are  told... ASK more questions and demand more answers. No one knows you better than you!

Heart Attack Signs in Women

1.      Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.

2.      Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

3.      Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.

4.      Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

5.      As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particular shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. 

(American Heart Association)

If you have any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital right away.

February.. no longer just a page on the calendar!

Are you kidding me, It's been almost a year since my heart attack? What a crazy and wild ride I find myself on to this day. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would become part of a group known as heart attack survivors. I was a healthy, 40-year-old mom with no cardiovascular risk factors going about my daily tasks. Flipping the calendar from month to month and not realizing that February will now be the most important month of my life!  Why do you ask? Because this happened....

My Cath lab film showing 100% blockage of my right coronary artery

My Cath lab film showing 100% blockage of my right coronary artery

February is not only the month of my heart attack but coincidentally is also known as  Heart Month! Feb 3rd is National Wear Red Day, Cardiovascular Heart Disease Week is Feb 7-14, Heart Failure Awareness Week is Feb 12-18th, and Heart Valve Awareness Day is Feb. 22nd. If you're going to have a heart attack why not have it in February? One thing you'll find when reading my blogs is humor is a big part of my personal healing journey! 

This blog is very important to me because heart health doesn't just matter to me but it matters to all of us! Maybe you haven't been affected by heart disease in your family or maybe you know too many people to count.  Where ever you fall at on this spectrum it's very important that you and your loved ones know the signs and what steps to take to minimize your risks. Up until 2-10-16 I thought I was the pillar of health .. well was I proven wrong with the sensation of chest and jaw pain. 

Heart Health not just affects you but your family and friends. Although our heart is ours it's interconnected between family, loved ones, and friends.  Take a personal assessment of your health. Ask yourself do you have high cholesterol? High blood pressure? Family history of heart disease? Smoke?  If you find yourself answering yes to these questions.. go talk to your doctor. Start your new path to a healthy heart this February and don't look back. We owe this to our loved ones.  

Below is a picture of my angiogram when they fixed my right coronary artery with the placement of stents.. this is why February is so important. February brought about the research and medical developments to open my artery and save my life!!

The white arrow points to the stent placed in my artery. This will allow my artery to stay open and bring blood to my heart.

The white arrow points to the stent placed in my artery. This will allow my artery to stay open and bring blood to my heart.

The finished product, blood flow restored to my heart!! Noticed the increased blood pathways from this photo to the first photo.

The finished product, blood flow restored to my heart!! Noticed the increased blood pathways from this photo to the first photo.


During February, take in all the news, stories and information about Heart Health. Wear the color RED on February 3rd and stand united that we can change heart health and move cardiovascular disease out of the #1 spot for mortality. 

Get involved with  My Research legacy if you are currently between 21 and 49 years of age, of any race or ethnicity or gender, who reside in the United States, and who have been diagnosed with a heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation, aortic dissection or systolic heart failure/cardiomyopathy. Click on this link to see if you're eligible. https://www.myresearchlegacy.org/home