"Heart disease was never on my radar"
"I was overweight. I ate what I wanted to eat. I had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I never, ever exercised. I had lots of stress in my life. My time was not really my own." After attending a Saturday workshop with her daughter about putting yourself back on your priority list, Sam decided to make some changes on Monday.
But it was too late. On her first mile-long aerobic walk, Sam experienced a weird feeling in her chest, a pain in her neck and a strong headache. When she stopped walking, all the symptoms went away. Hurrying to a meeting two days later, she felt them again.
"Back in my office, I felt so unsettled ... until my eyes focused on a picture of Sister Beverly Ann Nelson, one of Saint Agnes' spiritual leaders. Sister Bev was a very dear friend and my spiritual angel, who had passed away last May. I felt her presence and her message was strong - 'Do not ignore the symptoms like I did. Get them checked out. "I immediately called my internist, who sent me to the Saint Agnes Emergency Department, just a few steps from my office." The doctors found Sam had blockage in three main arteries.
Coronary artery bypass surgery opened the door to a new life of health and happiness. Four weeks after surgery, Sam joined the Saint Agnes Cardiac Rehab Program. "What began as a very fearful 20 minutes has slowly turned into an hour of diligent exercise: weights, treadmill and bicycling." Also, Sam joined a 10-week, heart-healthy seminar sponsored by Saint Agnes that put her on the path toward a sound diet. "I am already 50 pounds lighter!"
Sam is strong in spirit. "I do believe guidance from Sister Bev and zeroing in on my symptoms saved my life. I would have had a heart attack, and may not have had this second chance."
Now a strong advocate for heart disease in women, Sam takes every opportunity to educate patients, family and friends. "It is critical to know the signs of heart disease in women, and that heart attack symptoms for women are not the same as for men. They are unusual and varied. Get them checked out!"
For more information about Saint Agnes Heart & Vascular Services, click here.
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