A sudden heart attack turned this mother of three into a vocal advocate

When Priti Langer suffered from a spontaneous coronary artery dissection, she had to be a strong advocate for her own health; now she speaks out about the need for better awareness and treatment

At around 3:00 a.m. in the morning on October 8, 2023, Priti Langer was awakened by heavy chest pains. Priti, Global Practice Group Director of Intellectual Property at McDermott Will & Emery and mother of three, was at a Baltimore hotel with a few close friends after seeing Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks in concert and celebrating one of the friends’ birthdays. She described her symptoms as the “TV kind” – a level of pain in her chest that she couldn’t ignore, along with vomiting, jaw pain and arm pain.

Fortunately, one of the friends present was a nurse who had the insight to call 911 and specifically request a cardiac ambulance. But when paramedics arrived, getting appropriate treatment proved less-than-straightforward.

From the hotel to the hospital, Priti had to repeatedly emphasize that what she was experiencing was abnormal chest pain, and not anxiety or exhaustion. In a LinkedIn post honoring National Wear Red day and recalling this experience, she reflects: “all I could do was remain calm and continue to advocate for myself.” Doing so saved her life.

Priti Langer headshot
Priti Langer on National Wear Red Day

When an EKG confirmed what Priti long suspected, that she was having a cardiac event known as a widow-maker heart attack, hospital staff took fast action. The medical team placed two stents in her arteries and provided lifesaving intervention. Priti’s heart attack was later attributed to complications from a spontaneous coronary artery dissection (SCAD), a condition that often affects women in their 40s and 50s who don’t have other common risk factors for heart disease, like diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure. “There is no one profile of what a cardiovascular disease patient looks like,” said Priti.

Priti Langer in the hospital
Priti Langer receiving emergency cardiac care at Johns Hopkins hospital

Priti has made a nearly full recovery and receives top notch care from her cardiology teams at Johns Hopkins initially and now at Inova. However, she knows that her experience highlights the need for more awareness and response around cardiac emergencies. Factors like socioeconomic status, language and cost of emergency treatment represent major barriers to many individuals. “I just finished cardiac rehab and I feel a million percent better. I hope this never happens to another woman – but statistically, it will.”

This experience has inspired Priti to advocate for women’s heart health. She shares her story at any opportunity; she even wrote to the White House sharing her story as it relates to the Biden administration’s women’s health funding and research initiative.

This May, Priti will participate in the 34th annual Lawyers Have Heart for the fun walk portion with her 10-year-old daughter, Uma, as part of Team McDermott. This year marks a special return; Priti first ran the race in 2004 when she was a first-year associate out of law school.

“Being unflappable in the face of a near-death experience, and calmly, consistently advocating for myself saved my life. I’m grateful to be healthy and stable again, and to be able to hold my 16-year-old twins, 10-year-old, and husband of 21 years close. It even gave me the motivation to finish a novel I’ve been working on since before the birth of my youngest.  Through this experience, I’m committed to working with the American Heart Association and other advocates for women’s health to raise awareness and address health disparities.”

Priti Langer family photo
Priti Langer, her husband, Jeff Langer (left) and their three children, Uma, Nadia and Kieran (right)

Priti representing AHA-GWR in the news

WUSA9: Lawyers Have Heart hopes to raise $2M for American Heart Association

97.1 WASH-FM: Community DC Interview | American Heart Association | Lawyers Have Heart

106.7 The Fan: David Jaffe and Priti Langer talk Lawyers Have Heart 2024