Go Red Survivor Story by Rikki Hetzler
38 seconds…think about that. Less than a minute is how often someone loses a loved one to cardiovascular disease. You may think, “I’m a woman and heart disease is a man’s disease.”, or “I’m not old enough to have to worry about that.”, or “That doesn’t happen to someone like me.”
At 29 years old, a wife and active mother of two young children; the furthest thing from your mind is that you need to worry about having a heart attack. At least it was for me…
, 2012 didn’t start out like any typical day. I sat straight up in bed at 5:30 am with chest pain and pain down my left arm. I got up, took some ibuprofen, and drank a glass of water. After 20 minutes of the pain and breaking out in a cold sweat, I got in the shower, got ready for work, and went about my day as planned. I suspected something wasn’t quite right, but didn’t think it was anything I couldn’t handle, and I even thought to myself, “I don’t have time for this!”
My day continued as normal until about 2:30 pm in the afternoon. At that time, I started having the same symptoms though they were much more intense and I knew something was wrong. I called my medical provider who I had seen two days previously, as he was treating me for strep throat. I gave a list of the symptoms I was experiencing and was told to go to the emergency department at our local hospital.
As I walked through the doors of the emergency department, I was winded, barely able to speak or breathe and had the classic “elephant on the chest” feeling you hear people describe. I was promptly placed in a room, given aspirin and nitroglycerin, and had blood drawn. The blood work came back and the next thing I knew, I was told I was getting an ambulance ride to another hospital that would be able to treat the “MI” I was having, run more tests, and prepare me for whatever surgery may be needed.
“But I’m only 29!”… “I can’t be having a heart attack!”
See, the truth is, heart disease does not discriminate. It doesn’t care about your age, gender, race, or religion. It can happen to anyone. In fact, it happened to me.
Heart disease is the number one killer of American women. It kills more women each year than all types of cancer combined, according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease also claims 610,000 lives annually in the United States or 1 in every 4 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Please celebrate cardiovascular disease awareness and, “Go Red” in February!
I urge you to take control of your heart health. Learn the warning signs of heart attack and stroke and educate your loved ones. You just may save someone’s life!