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One Woman's Story


OWS-SylviaMore than 10 years ago, I had terrible nausea and some pain in my right arm and shoulder that I had been ignoring for a few days. One day, I threw up violently but did not think "heart attack". My husband, however, wasn't taking any chances. He called the hospital right away to ask them about my symptoms. They suggested he bring me in as soon as possible. I have no memory of what happened from the moment I walked into the ER until I woke up in the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) several days later.

When I woke up, I had a nasal oxygen tube, wires attached to my body, and a heart monitor beeping by my side. A woman came into the room and explained that I was in the CCU because I had had a massive heart attack. When my cardiologist said I...
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OWS-BarbaraI did everything right. As a former professional dancer, I work out regularly, I practice yoga, I don’t drink or smoke, and I eat a healthy diet. You can imagine how shocked I was when I woke up 1 night with crushing chest pain.

I knew I was in trouble and wasted no time in calling an...
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OWS-DearraMy first experience with heart disease was when my father had a heart attack at age 42. I was 14 years old. My second experience was when my father had a second -- this time fatal -- heart attack at age 57. I was 29 years old.

When I was 51, I was having my third experience with heart...
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OWS-DebbieI remember every year worrying about breast cancer and whether my mammogram would be negative. None of the women I worked with ever spoke about heart disease and none of us knew it was our #1 killer.

I clearly remember my heart attack even though it happened years ago. I was lying in bed...
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OWS-JaneI suffered a heart attack at age 52 while teaching a class. At the time, I didn’t recognize what was happening to me, but I do remember thinking, “This can’t be a heart attack!” As a precaution, I asked a colleague if she had an aspirin because I’d recently read about taking an...
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OWS-JeanI am a 62-year-old woman who was diagnosed with heart disease just over 10 years ago. Although I complained continually about symptoms that seemed to point to heart disease, I was never sent for any cardiac tests, not even a stress test. I suffered for 2 years before my condition was diagnosed...
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OWS-KathyAt 42 years old, I considered myself a healthy, optimistic woman blessed with three healthy boys, a wonderful husband, and devoted friends. However, my sense of security and invincibility has been challenged and I’ll never view myself in the same way.

About 2 and a half years ago, I...
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OWS-MargueriteI am a 42-year-old African-American female. I’d had a heart attack in my late twenties, but it was not diagnosed until the age of 38. At that time, I had cardiac catheterization and an MRI that showed I had a moderate heart attack and damage to the front of my left ventricle. My cardiologist...
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OWS-MaxineWhen I was 11 years old, my father died of breast cancer. Yes, men can get breast cancer, although it is very rare. As a result, I spent my adult years focused on the possibility of getting that disease. I knew that many members of my family had died of heart disease, but since they were all...
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OWS-PennyI was dancing through my life as the 46-year-old who everyone thought was 36. My job as a peace officer was tremendously stressful, but also challenging. I was one of only 3 women in the history of our facility who had ever become supervisor of forensic specialists. Then, as I was packing for...
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