"#HerHeartMatters to me because...
I didn't know anything about heart disease or the symptoms of a heart attack in women - I was fortunate to be saved. I want women to be aware of the risks, to recognize if they are having a heart attack, and to feel empowered to take charge of their heart health."
On February 10, 2014, I was sitting at my desk and I started perspiring, had sharp heartburn pain and shortness of breath.
I took some Tylenol and heartburn meds but it was not helping. I had been sick that week so thought that might be causing these symptoms. But then something came over me and I thought this does not feel right so I decided to drive myself to the emergency.
I thought twice and asked a colleague to drive me, thank goodness because I was in the middle of a heart attack. I had no idea.
I did not know anything about heart disease, risk factors, or heart attack symptoms. My risk factors did not set off any red flags to the doctor because my tests for cholesterol, high blood pressure and ECG were acceptable. I had no information on my biological parents, so the doctor was not worried.
I got admitted and stabilized, tests were looking good. After a few days, I was waiting to go home with information about recovery at home. Lucky for me that the ER doctor that admitted me chose to take action and order an angiogram. I was very frightened when I read the side effects of the test, especially the death part.
My fears were not so far off since my heart had stopped two times on the angiogram table. I had 90% blockage in my coronary arteries.
I was immediately sent for emergency open-heart surgery. While healing, in the hospital, I started physio, went to talks on choosing a better lifestyle and what to do when I got home. It was hard to leave the hospital where I felt safe with the medical staff close by.
When I went home, armed with the Canada food guide, physio exercises and rehab in my future I started a better lifestyle of exercising and healthy food choices. I had support from family and friends. I lost 35 lbs. and feel confident enough to do a variety of exercises without a heart monitor.
I was recovering and was happy but there was something missing. I was so fortunate to find the new launch of the Women@Heart support group.
It helped to adapt to a lifelong condition, “heart disease”, by sharing stories and experiences. It helped me move on psychologically. I knew that I was not alone. Now after 8 years, I am still keeping active and doing my best to have a healthy diet. I still listen to my body and check in with my cardiologist when something feels off.
After moving from Ottawa to Vancouver, in 2017, I found that there were no women heart health support groups, so when the opportunity came up to join the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance, I immediately volunteered. I participate in the annual West Regional Wear Red Campaign to help bring awareness of women’s heart health to women of all ages, concentrating my efforts in Richmond, BC.