When EMS arrived at Amber Miranda’s Middletown home, she was feeling better, and suggested she just go back upstairs and lay down.
“You could do that,” she remembers EMS saying, “but since we’re here, let’s do an EKG.”
During the night of March 2, 2020, Miranda, then 43, had put up with pain for hours before waking her boyfriend and asking him to call 911.
“For a while, I thought I was feeling heartburn, which is weird because I don’t get heartburn,” she said. “It would come and go, and was very painful. I went to bed and it woke me up again. I was flipping my body back and forth because it was unbearable. Then, I felt pain going up and down my arm, and I started to vomit. My stepmother is a nurse, and she tells us a lot of things, and I knew then I was having a heart attack.”
EMS did two EKGs on Miranda. The first was fine, and the second showed something. EMS also asked if she had high blood pressure, and she told them she had recently been diagnosed with it. She’d been out of her normal routine that day and had forgotten to take her medication.
When she suggested again that she just go upstairs and take her medicine, her boyfriend put his foot down, and EMS transported her to Garnet Health. The last thing she remembered was being wheeled out of the ambulance into the hospital.
She later learned that she had coded five times, and that her family had been told while she was in surgery that it didn’t look good.
“The ER doctors and nurses saved my life with CPR, and Dr. Linda Cuomo put in a stent,” Miranda said. “It turns out that I have a genetic blood clot disorder. My parents are being tested for it now.”
Miranda sees life now through a different lens.
“I cry a lot,” she said. “But I know you have to take every moment that you can. You never know. Life is short. I used to have a fear of death. But after dying five times, I don’t know if I’m afraid anymore.”
To live her best life, Miranda quit smoking, one of the leading risk factors for heart disease.
“I haven’t had a cigarette since March 1, 2020,” she said. “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was a pack-a-day smoker. I still think about it – sometimes I smell smoke and it smells good; sometimes I smell it and say, ‘ew.’ I had a cough that instantly went away.”
Miranda said she sometimes feels tired, and not being able to do as much as she used to has been hard.
“I was raised to be very active, and it’s been hard to sit still,” she said. “I like to clean and I like things a certain way. I recently got clearance to exercise, and I’m in cardiac rehab now. I’ve also joined Weight Watchers, and I’m excited about that.”
Miranda is sharing her story as part of the 2021 Digital Tri-County Heart Walk on May 1. People can register for the Walk at TriCountyHeartWalk.org. There will be interactive events on the Facebook event page for the Walk, including a Week of Wellness beginning on April 26, culminating in the Heart Walk on May 1.
“Listen to your body,” is Miranda’s advice for people. “If something feels off, it is. I was really tired a little bit before my heart attack. Also, my blood pressure medications weren’t working and I should have been seeing my doctor regularly. I know now that you have to take care of yourself.”
Miranda takes that lesson to heart.
“I believe in God, and for whatever reason, he has given me a second chance at life,” she said. “You have to hang in there, and be as healthy and stress-free as you can. When I had my heart attack, I was dealing with some stress. Now, I look at life so much differently. If it doesn’t bring me peace, it’s gotta go. If there’s something you thought of doing a year ago, do it.”
Miranda lives in Middletown with her boyfriend. She has two daughters and a son, ages 24, 22 and 16.
“Amber’s story is very moving, and I’m glad she had a good outcome, that she quit smoking and is reducing her stress,” said Christopher Costello, BSN, MSN, Director of Occupational Health and Wellness at Garnet Health and chair of the 2021 Tri-County Heart Walk. “We’re also grateful that she is sharing her story as part of the Digital Tri-County Heart Walk. Her story shows how important the work of the American Heart Association is. The AHA created and updates the CPR guidelines, and their research helps shape the way we treat patients like Amber. The more money we can raise at the Heart Walk, the more lives like Amber’s we can save.”