Close to 500,000 women die every year from heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, three women in South Dakota died today from heart disease. That's why February is American Heart Month to raise awareness of the number one killer in women. We have more on an Aberdeen women, who is one of the lucky ones, she survived her heart attack.
Cindy Heckel in the Director of Ambulatory Services at Avera St. Lukes in Aberdeen. She was sitting at her desk last September when she started feeling a funny sensation.
Heckel says, "I experienced vague discomfort in my upper chest, shortly after that I felt a discomfort in my back and then my left arm had a strange sensation."
The 48 year old said she never had any crushing pain. No vomiting, no nausea, no shortness of breath, all signs of a heart attack, still she knew something wasn't right. She was right. She was suffering a heart attack.
Cindy says, " I called a coworker. My colleagues are nurses and they immediately took me to the ER and they admitted me in to the hospital. My blood pressure was very high and the next day I was flown to the Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls.
Within an hour of arriving at Avera Heart Hospital, Cindy was taken in to the cardiac cath lab. She was one of the lucky ones since 1 in 3 people don't survive a heart attack. Cardiologists also determined her blockage could be managed with medicine, so she didn't need angioplasty or a stent put in. But she did need to make a change in her lifestyle to include a heart healthy diet and exercise.
Cindy says, "My initial reaction was this certainly can't be a heart attack. As women we often times are caring for our family and are looking out for their health and at times we forget to be concerned with our own health."
That has been Cindy's greatest lesson in all of this. She advises other women listen to their body and call for help if something is off. It more than likely saved her life.
The symptoms of a heart attack can be very different in men than they are in women. It's important to now your numbers. High blood pressure and cholesterol, smoking and family history put you at risk for heart disease.
If you suspect you are having a heart attack, call 911 immediately.