On Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at the age of 53, I suffered a mild heart attack. I still can’t wrap my head around what took place those next couple of days afterwards. I’m an active, health conscious person – no smoking, no prior family history, no overweight issues, no high cholesterol, no diabetes and no alcohol or drug abuse.
After work that day, I was excited to go to my weekly Tuesday evening Bootcamp class to release some steam. While jogging the first lap of our cardio set that night and then starting the first set of stairs in the pool area, I started to feel a tightness in my chest and started wondering if I had done too many pushups the day before. By the second lap I felt more pressure, a shooting pain in my left arm and then nausea began. I pulled my trainer aside and told her the symptoms. We both knew by then…I was exhibiting the classic symptoms of a heart attack. My husband rushed me to the ER. By then I also was experiencing numbness in my left hand and foot.
I entered into the ER around 7:30 pm. When the initial ER Team took my information they performed an EKG, blood pressure, oxygen and temperature check, to the best of my memory. Everything appeared normal. What they didn’t do, which I know now was proper protocol, was take my blood and perform a blood test which would have shown an increase in Troponin and told them right away that I was having a heart attack. I left the ER at 2 am Wednesday morning without a blood test or being seen by a doctor. The waiting room was full of others, and by then my symptoms were decreasing, so I went home, took a Tylenol and woke in the morning and called my primary doctor’s office.
When I entered my primary physician’s office on Wednesday morning, the physician’s assistant drew my blood, gave me an EKG and a chest x-ray. They put a “rush” on the bloodwork with the lab for results. Upon receiving the results of the Troponin level, they immediately had me sent to a different ER. My Troponin level was 49.5! A normal level ranges between 0-0.4. Cardiologists were already looking at my file and I was rushed to the Cath lab where I underwent an emergency catheterization and received a stent in the left circumflex artery, 30% heart damage.
Fortunately, my prognosis is full-recovery with a new medicine regimen and I need to complete a cardiac rehab program. Right now I can just walk at 30-minute intervals.
So, what can I share with this group? Here’s my top five.
#5 – Take time to smell the flowers and let non-important things go!
#4 – Stay active or get active! Every medical person told me that being active helped me during the heart attack and will speed my recovery during cardiac rehab.
#3 – Read your labels! I’m now really looking at the sodium count of food. You’ll be amazed how much sodium is in some of your favorite foods and diet soda.
#2 – Keep those relationships (family, friends, co-workers) strong!
#1 – If you are experiencing classic heart attack symptoms…demand a blood test! If you only remember one thing from my story, please be your own advocate and ask about your Troponin level.
We all have stories and we can always learn from each other. Thank you for allowing me this platform to share my story. Good luck, God bless, and Happy American Heart Month!
Julie Mettie (Heart Attack Survivor, January 2021, an excerpt from an article written in Women’s Alliance)