By: Jane Gingerella of Westerly, RI
Back in April of this year, I was staying in Florida with family when I noticed a strange sensation—a pressure on my chest. I saw my primary care physician down in Florida, who ordered an EKG. After finding only what she described as some insignificant skipping, she said she didn’t believe it was anything to worry about.
My family and I made our way back up from Florida later that month and I made an appointment with my cardiologist Dr. George Bourganos at Rhode Island Cardiovascular Group, when we arrived home. He ordered a stress test and EKG for the next available appointment, which was two weeks out. In what I can only describe as a divine moment, just minutes after making the test appointments, an availability opened up which allowed me to do the tests sooner. I say this was a divine moment because the tests revealed a blockage in one of my arteries—this type of blockage is often referred to as the widow-maker.
I was quickly scheduled for surgery and when I awoke Dr. Bourganos explained that they originally believed I had a 75% blockage, but found the artery was actually 95% blocked. To say I’m lucky is an understatement. Dr. Bourganos said I wouldn’t be here today if I would have waited two weeks to do my tests.
As a cardiologist, Dr. Bourganos was not surprised to see me, someone who eats healthy and exercises, go through what I went through. He sees it often. For my friends and family though, my experience has been a wake-up call. We all need to pay close attention to our heart health and understand all our risk factors. Eating healthy, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight are important, and so is lowering your stress levels, and knowing your family history of heart disease.
It so important to know the warning signs of heart attack. Did you know that warning signs are often different in women? The pressure on my chest that I felt is a common symptom, and so is pain or discomfort your arms, back, neck, jaw and stomach; shortness of breath; breaking out in a cold sweat; nausea; and lightheadedness.
Today, I’m so thankful for every new day I have with my family. That’s why I am happy to support the American Heart Association and their mission to improve our understanding of heart disease.
To learn about the American Heart Association’s Greater Westerly Heart Walk, visit GreaterWesterlyHeartWalk.org.