National Wear Red Heart awareness

My sister called and told me she was having some symptoms that felt like a heart attack. "What are you feeling?" I asked her. "I don't know, ” she said. “Something doesn't feel right. I feel anxious, and my jaw is aching a little." I suggested she go to the emergency room. She argued, "But I don't feel any chest pain. I just wanted to talk to you about it."

My sister called and told me she was having some symptoms that felt like a heart attack. “What are you feeling?” I asked her. “I don’t know, '' she said.

"Sis, please trust me. Go to the hospital. We can talk after you get checked out," I pleaded. She said OK, and a few hours later, my niece called to say that she had been taken into emergency surgery. She had three arteries with more than 70 percent blockages.

Two years ago, I experienced the same feeling of denial when my husband urged me to see a doctor about my increased anxiety. The silent anxiety I felt was a culmination of things weighing heavy on my heart.

I assured him I was fine and would make an appointment if it got worse. After he left to run some errands, I suddenly felt overwhelmed and couldn't stop crying.

I began to feel an increasing heaviness in the middle of my chest, and without a doubt, I knew my heart was in distress. Then a slow ache crept into my left shoulder and my lower jaw.

The first thing I did was take one of my husband's nitroglycerin tablets. I noticed he had left his phone on the table. The nitro tablet didn't provide any relief, and I suddenly felt an urgency inside that moved me forward to get my keys, my purse, my phone, and get in the car.

I know what you are thinking, and you are right; I should have called 911!

As I drove through town, I saw my husband’s truck at Hardee’s, but I knew I couldn't take the chance to stop and tell him what was going on.

Besides, I was still in denial. "I'll tell him about it later after they let me go from the emergency room," I thought.

When I walked into the emergency room, I stated my name, age and said, "I have some chest pains." Of course, everyone went into action, and before I knew it, I was in a gown on a stretcher while an IV was being started and EKG leads were being placed on my body.

I tried to tell them where my husband was, but the medical staff kept telling me first they had to take care of me. After the EKG was completed, they said they would try to get word to my husband. It will be alright, I assured myself, as they lowered the lights and said they would be back soon.

Suddenly, within minutes, my room was filled with medical staff, including an emergency medical technician (EMT), who would accompany me in the ambulance. I was told I had already had a heart attack, and they needed to immediately transport me to Abingdon.

In the ambulance, the EMT assured me they had reached my husband and that he would meet us at the hospital. While I was lying inside the ambulance, I was stunned, but I knew God was with me, whatever happened.

When we arrived at the hospital, I was transported from the ambulance directly into the cath lab with everyone already clad in surgical attire.

When I awoke, my husband was there beside me. The doctor explained that I had experienced stress cardiomyopathy, which mimics the symptoms of a heart attack. It is a condition in which intense emotional or physical stress causes rapid and severe heart muscle weakness, leading to congestive heart failure and potentially life-threatening.

I was not surprised that my sister had a heart attack. She was a stressed-out single mom who was also a lifetime smoker. She didn't have time to take care of herself because she was overworked and raising her seven children alone.

In my immediate family medical history, we have a higher-than-usual chance of heart disease, high blood pressure, and strokes?five heart attacks and four strokes, to be exact.

I was surprised that I had a heart attack. I assumed because I lived a healthy life and had not experienced any major health issues that I was safe.

Denial is a deadly condition in many areas of our lives, especially in matters of the heart. For my sister, it was, "This can't be a heart attack. I'm just feeling a little pain." For me, it was, "This can't happen to me. I am a healthy person."

Remember: The five most dangerous words associated with chest pain are: "Maybe it will go away!”

If you feel something in your back, chest, jaw, or tooth that you haven’t felt before, or you feel the slightest chance your symptoms mean a cardiac event is imminent, call 911 and take one full-strength aspirin immediately.

Author's Image
Deana Landers
Author for

I have had many roles in life
Pastor’s Wife , Mom/Nana , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer , Christian Speaker
I can't remember a time when I wasn't writing stories, either in my head or in my journal.

[Read full bio]

Story Comments

    No comments found.

Leave a Comment