Listen to Your Heart

Don't Let COVID-19 Stop You From Calling 911

Our country is in a pandemic and it’s causing fear. Are you afraid to go to the hospital? Don’t be – especially if you are experiencing heart attack symptoms.

I survived a heart attack in 2018. Despite having all the warning signs, I made excuses for them because I did not want to go to the Emergency Room. I self-diagnosed my discomfort as an anxiety attack. Big mistake! Thankfully, my cardiologist and hospital saved my life by getting me to the cath lab and putting in two stents.

Heart disease is the No.1 killer of women, killing one woman in four. Forty-eight million women have or are at risk for heart disease. These numbers don’t change during pandemics. Women may feel weary with stress over coronavirus, social unrest and quarantine fatigue. As a woman living with heart disease, I know stress played a role in my heart attack. I didn’t know the symptoms. I didn’t know women’s symptoms could be different than men’s.

After I nearly died from that heart attack, I wanted to tell every woman I knew about the risks of heart disease. I wanted to shout from the rooftops, “Don’t do what I did!” I had stopped taking care of me because I was so busy taking care of everyone else while my own physical needs went unattended. I thought I was busy doing good.

When I learned that WomenHeart hosted a training at the Mayo Clinic for women with heart disease like me to become WomenHeart Champions – I jumped at the chance. Now I can speak and write confidently about risk factors for heart disease in women. I can spread the word so every woman I meet will have the chance for a healthier future.

Women are well known for putting others’ needs before their own. I learned firsthand – you can’t help others if you die of a heart attack. So, don’t let anything stop you from going to the Emergency Room if you have symptoms.

The coronavirus pandemic is real and causing legitimate fear. But don’t let that be a reason not go to a hospital or seek emergency care if something feels wrong. Hospitals are diligent about precautions and keeping COVID patients in separate wings. Hospitals are safe for heart patients. Ignored symptoms make things worse. Healthcare providers agree. Be heart smart please. Always call 911 – it’s far better to have a false alarm than to die from a heart attack.

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