On September 19, 1994 when I was just 34 years of age, I had a heart attack. I was at home, and just popped my lunch into the microwave. As I watched the food go around suddenly my chest felt like an elephant sat on me and squeezed all the oxygen out. I thought I was going to be sick so I went to the bathroom. Once I got there pain radiated down my left arm and I began to sweat and that is when my brain alerted me to the danger. I came out and headed to the phone falling and then pulled myself up and dialed 911. Since that day I have had 2 stints placed in my heart, the artery on the left and the artery on the right. On September 19, 2009 I remarried and since that day I have done all that I can to control heart disease in me. I began to run daily and make sure I did a cardio exercise six days a week. I put my story up on the Go Red For Women American Heart Association page and I volunteered as much as I could to help raise awareness of heart disease. Not only because of my own disease but because I have children and grandchildren and I want them to be aware of the risks.
On July 7, 2010 my husband of 1 year and 10 months died while we were sleeping. Gary is an athlete. He did gymnastics in high school, was a cyclist and won a lot of races. Then went to running and won even more races. In fact, Gary won a half marathon for his age group just 3 months prior to his heart failure and he was training to run the Chicago Marathon. He also ran the Boston Marathon. This is how athletic he was and still he had heart failure. Heart Disease is the number 1 killer because it will kill without prejudice.
Today is the National Go Red for Women Campaign. The idea behind this is to raise awareness of heart disease and save lives. It is from the Go Red for Women that I learned all about hands free CPR.
Hands free CPR is CPR without giving oxygen. When Gary died in bed, he vomited and aspirated on his vomit. I could not get oxygen into his lungs and could only do hands free CPR. I did that until the paramedics arrived and intubated Gary and then used the AED to send a charge to his heart. Since then Gary has a stint in his heart and a defibulator and pacemaker. He has an anoxic brain injury.
This morning Gary and I ran a 5K.
Do not assume that you are risk free or safe from heart disease. As I said heart disease kills without prejudice. That is why it kills so many. Heart Disease will kill more women and men than all the cancers combined per year.
Today is Go Red and it is really simple to do. Just wear a red shirt and let people know about heart disease. Go to my site at Go Red for Women and make a donation. Look up the risks and learn them and then teach them to others. Get involved, get exercising, start eating better, do what you can to limit your risks.