National Wear Red Heart awareness

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in America, and the five most dangerous words associated with chest pain are: “Maybe it will go away!”  

In this story, I would like to give you two examples of how dangerous those words are.

It doesn’t feel like a heart attack.

“Something doesn’t feel right. I feel anxious, and my jaw is aching a little,” my sister said.

She said she was experiencing slight shortness of breath. 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.”

At that time, I lived in Texas, and she lived in Georgia.

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in America, and the five most dangerous words associated with chest pain are:

“Sis, please trust me. Call 911 or 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 the doctor had taken her into emergency surgery. She had two arteries with more than 70 percent blockages and one with 90%.

Just because you feel like you live a healthy life doesn’t mean you can’t have a heart attack.

A few years ago, I felt tired and anxious like my sister; my husband urged me to see a doctor about my increased anxiety. The silent fear I felt culminated in things weighing heavy on my heart.

I assured him I was fine and would make an appointment if it worsened.

One morning 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. Unfortunately, it didn’t provide any relief. I suddenly felt an urgency that moved me forward to get my keys, purse, and 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 a restaurant, where I knew he was having breakfast with a friend. I 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 I get checked out,” I thought.

When I walked into the emergency room, I stated my age and said, “I have some chest pains.” Then, of course, everyone went into action, and before I knew it, I was in a gown on a stretcher while one nurse was starting an IV and another placed EKG leads on my body.

I tried to tell them where my husband was (he didn’t have his phone with him), but the medical staff told me first they had to take care of me. Then, after they completed the EKG, 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, a group of medical staff, including an emergency medical technician (EMT), came rushing into the room. They told me I had already had a heart attack and they needed to transport me to a larger hospital immediately.

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 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 care for 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 I was safe because I lived a healthy life and had not experienced any major health issues.

Denial is a deadly condition in many areas of our lives, especially when dealing with 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.

Today as I submit this story, I am waiting to hear the results of my niece’s open heart surgery. Your heart…to be continued.

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Deana Landers
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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.

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