March 3rd, 2021 was the day that changed everything. At 55, I had a busy counselling practice and a few other projects on the go. The pandemic was causing anxiety for many of my clients and in my private life. I had a lot of stress of my own: there were safety issues in the building where I lived, and I was looking for a new apartment. Despite this, I thought I was handling it well. I was fairly healthy, I walked daily, ate well, meditated and didn’t smoke or drink.
I started to experience heavy fatigue towards the end of 2020 but told myself it was normal considering all that was going on in the world.
When I was 39, with zero risk factors for heart disease, I had all the classic symptoms associated with a heart attack. My doctors put me on three blood thinners to dissolve a clot in a minor artery seen in an angiogram. The next day, while the original clot had dissolved, I had a clot in a larger artery. Baffled, the cardiologists put in a stent. As they backed the scope out of the artery, it spasmed in another location.
At that time, I had a 4-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a 12-year-old. My husband traveled extensively for work. I asked myself two questions: 1) How do I feel about dying at age 39? 2) If I don’t die, how do I live?
My story began in January 2010, while sitting at a traffic light returning to the office. I was working as a home health physical therapist. I began having chest pain out of nowhere. I got to my office and my boss, an RN, asked me if I was OK. I told her about the chest pain. By then it was starting to progress down my left arm. She took my blood pressure, normally 98/68. It was 140/90. She called my husband and told him to meet me at the ER. I drove myself there. They ran the normal tests and diagnosed me with costochondritis. Pain meds made the symptoms go away. The pain came back six times in the next 6 months. I asked for a cardiologist referral, but was denied, due to my age (39), lack of family history, and being in shape.
My name is Arthur. I am a Scot but have lived in London for nearly forty years.
In 2014, I had my first heart attack. In the following six years, I went to A&E at least twice a year. Every time, I was sent home and was told it was reflux.
My own doctor in about 2015/16 put me on half an angina pill. When I was in hospital, I was told by the cardiology doctors that I did not need it as I never had angina at all.
I am a 62-year-old retired physician. My story began at age 47.
I was a very busy practicing OB/Gyn physician who was otherwise healthy.
I was on call at the hospital, and it was turning out to be one of the busiest days I had ever experienced as a physician. I was in a medical group that took call for 24 hours straight, most of the time working the entire 24 hours.
Halfway through that 24-hour call, I was in the operating room doing a C/Section on a patient. Halfway through the surgery I began to feel crushing chest pain.
While at work in September 2014, I lost vision of my left eye and had terrible feeling of “heat” all over the left side of my body.
The ER ophthalmologist directed me to cardiology for a vascular problem.
A week later, I could not walk 100 meters (325 feet) without crushing chest pain and shortness of breath.
I was no longer functional. Making my bed was all I could do in a whole day. I was no longer an active 54-year-old.
I consider myself one of the lucky ones.
I was a runner, triathlete, skier, scuba diver, etc. before my problems got severe enough to seek medical help.
Most doctors took my health decline seriously from the start.
Later, it was not uncommon for doctors who were unaware of my athletic endeavours to assume my subsequent lack of fitness was the cause of my condition rather than the result.
I had my first heart attack in 2018. I was 67 years old.
After numerous trips to the hospital, tests, and frequent heart attack-like symptoms, I was diagnosed with Prinzmetal Angina and placed on medications.
I lost weight. I exercised. I was finally feeling better. I even got back to my painting.
First came the headaches – worse than migraines – then the shortness of breath and having to lay down after crossing the room.
Five months after my symptoms began, I was diagnosed with a 99% blockage in my LAD and 99% blockage in an artery branch off that.
I was stented and, in doing so, they jailed an artery. I was given Metoprolol and I got worse.
I underwent another Angiogram, and all was fine, so they changed my medication and I began to use my Nitro more.
My first episode caught me completely off guard on a Sunday morning in 2014. I was an active, healthy 35-year-old mother of 3. It felt like what I imagined having a heart attack would feel like. After a minute or two it stopped as suddenly as it had started and I got out of bed to start my day, I had experienced palpitations before and brushed it off as a once off.
I had about 8 more episodes before lunch time and made a deal with myself that if it continued, I would call an ambulance. I was a busy mum and didn’t want to be ‘dramatic’! It resolved by 2 p.m.
In February 2020, I had a VF cardiac arrest.
My memories start a week after the event when I awoke in ICU.
I was confused and initially unable to move. My family were at my bedside and told me what had happened.
Amazingly, I had survived not only the arrest, but also aspiration pneumonia, sepsis and a stage 3 acute kidney injury requiring dialysis.
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