Kimberly, 35 yrs old
Kimberly was your typical 35 year old woman with no past medical history other than having 4 children when she was preparing to give birth to her 5th! She was a former athlete and felt healthy. Toward the end of her pregnancy, she had some shortness of breath, which her doctors told her was nothing to worry about. After giving birth, her symptoms persisted until she suddenly developed chest tightness and arm numbness while in a stressful situation. Unsure of what was going on, she immediately called 9-1-1.
When the EMTs arrived, they tried giving her some medication, but she was ultimately admitted to the hospital. While there, she had an abnormal heart rhythm – called an arrhythmia – and was brought to the CCU (cardiac intensive care unit). Soon thereafter, she says that they called a “CODE BLUE!” This is a code for when someone’s heart stops. The doctors and nurses gave her CPR to bring her back. She awoke, but then went unconscious again. This happened a 3rd time before they rushed her to the catheterization lab, which is where Cardiologists do procedures to check for blocked arteries that cause heart attacks. Despite being only 35 years old, Kimberly was diagnosed with a heart attack!
The doctors told her she had SCAD (spontaneous coronary artery dissection), which is a condition more common in women, particular around the time of pregnancy and childbirth. Although many people don’t think of people in their 30s who are previously healthy being at risk for heart disease, Kimberly’s story provides some lessons to be learned. She says, “it’s happening younger and younger.”
Kimberly told Heartbeat one thing that surprised her was that she didn’t realize heart disease is the #1 killer of women, which it is. Although SCAD is not the same type of coronary artery disease that people get from blockages made of cholesterol, it can certainly be just as dangerous. After going through this experience, Kimberly is lucky and grateful to be able to tell people her story. She has since lost 60 lbs, is doing well in cardiac rehabilitation, and is following a plant-based diet to help prevent further heart disease in the future… and her future is now brighter than ever!
Kimberly’s advice for everyone out there is: “Go get your heart checked!” She wants everyone to know that although you may feel fine, you have to get checked to know how to take care of yourself and prevent heart disease.
As someone who survived this life-threatening experience and required life-saving resuscitation with CPR multiple times, we are happy that Kimberly lives to tell her story in hopes of inspiring others to take care of their heart health! For this, we’re proud to have Kimberly carry the title of being Heartbeat Elite.
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