I was 35, stressed-out, hypercaffeinated, sleep-deprived, working too many hours, and studying for the most difficult exam of my career when it happened. During a study break, I felt like something was wrong.
As a physician, I know how to describe thousands of patient presentations but the only what I could describe it was that something was wrong. I checked my pulse. It was 130 beats per minute. My normal resting pulse rate is about 60 beats per minute.
A few minutes later it was 160. Then it went up to 180 and I became dizzy. After a very long 5 to 10 minutes, my heart rate eventually returned to normal and instead of calling 911 or going to the hospital, I went home. After a sleepless night, and arriving at work as a forensic pathologist, I realized I did not want to be a patient at my office. In the emergency room and with subsequent cardiology visits, I was diagnosed with Wolf-Parkinson-White syndrome.
My heart has a back-seat-driver that thinks it is a race car driver and when it takes over, my heart doesn’t pump efficiently enough to get enough blood flowing through my body. I am blessed that my heart disease is mild enough and currently under control with limiting caffeine, decreasing stress, getting enough sleep, and avoiding medications that can trigger it. If as a physician, I ignored the signs of heart disease, what are other moms, daughters, and wives doing when heart disease hits? I have been sharing my story for over a decade with the American Heart Association to increase awareness and fight the number one killer of women – heart disease.
Doctor - Forensic Pathologist, Artist, and Heart Disease Advocate and Survivor
Thank you Go Red for inviting me to share my personal story as a heart disease survivor. It was an honor to be one of your featured speakers.
From packing gift bags to setting tables to greeting guests to sharing my story. Thank you AHA for allowing me to be a part of it all in the fight against the number one killer of women - heart disease!
There is a gender disparity in heart disease research. It is primarily focused on men. Could this be the reason that if I present with the symptoms of heart disease that as a women, I am 50% more likely to be misdiagnosed than a man?
Heart disease is the number one killer of women but heart disease presents differently in women than in men. Do you know the difference?
As a physician, I ignored the signs of heart disease when it entered my life when I was 35. If I ignored the symptoms of heart disease, what are other wives, mothers, and sisters doing when heart disease hits?
I share my story to remind all that the face of heart disease includes not only older men. It also includes women, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, neighbors, friends, children, and me.
Why do I volunteer for the American Heart Association and help to raise funds to fight heart disease? Life is why. Since it is the number one killer of men AND women, we can take steps, like the Wilson Heart Walk, to fight this killer.
Having a big sale, on-site celebrity, or other event? Be sure to announce it so everybody knows and gets excited about it.
As a heart disease survivor, I was honored to be a part of the opening remarks and to share my story.
As a heart disease survivor, it is my great honor to volunteer at the survivor tent. Here we welcome the heart disease and stroke survivors and honor them in many ways including hats. A red one like mine is for a heart disease survivor and a white one is for stroke survivors. It was such a joy to see all the red and white hats at the heart walk! Go Survivors!!
Most of the volunteers and AHA staff have had their lives touched by cardiovascular disease. Thank you to all for raising funds so that survivors like me can make it home from the hospital earlier to be with our families and liver longer and healthier lives. Thank you!
Heart disease runs in families. My husband and daughter are always with me at these events. Dunham is usually behind the camera and Lilly, pictured here, is rooting for me every step of the way. Thank you my family for fighting for life with me.
The AHA Go Red for Women empowers women like me to take action by increasing awareness on how we can wipe out heart disease. It is estimated that we can reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 80%. As a heart disease survivor, it is this movement that saves not only the lives of others but mine.
Checking in guests for the Triangle Go Red for Women Luncheon, packing up the fun gift bags, and hanging out with a great group of volunteers, other heart disease survivors, and the fabulous hardworking crew of the American Heart Association - what a wonderful time!
Hands-on CPR training at the Triangle Go Red for Women. Many people who experience cardiac arrest may die if they do not receive immediate CPR. Are you ready and trained to save a life with hands-only CPR?
10th Annual Triangle Go Red for Women was a success! We set a record raising over $350,000 toward the American Heart Association’s mission!
Wow, Macy's has raised over $60 million for the American Heart Association since 2004! Thank you Macy's for supporting heart disease survivors like me as we all fight this killer! We are the volunteer crew that had the joy of putting together the fabulous gift cards Macy's provided to everyone at the Triangle Go Red for Women. Shopping and saving lives - what a great combination!
I had a wonderful time as the Mistress of Ceremonies at the inaugural June Bug Project - a heart healthy awareness program founded to celebrate the life and memory of Bernice B. Brown who died of a massive heart attack.
I had the pleasure of introducing the talented Vanessa Ferguson from the twelfth season of NBC's The Voice. Her family also attended to support education and research for women's heart disease.
What does heart disease look like? Heart disease is typically thought to be an older man's disease. I present my story to dispel this myth and empower women with the knowledge that heart disease can present differently in women.
United to raise funds to promote research to save and improve lives.
Do you know how to prevent heart disease? 80% of heart disease is preventable. As a physician, I educate about the risk factors for heart disease to save lives.
Volunteering at the 2017 Triangle Heart Ball. It brought together sponsors, donors, volunteers, and survivors like me to celebrate the lives that are improved or saved.
Thank you to the American Heart Association and all its supporters. The ball raised over one million dollars to fight cardiovascular disease last night!
In 2015, Heart Balls across the United States in total raised over 73 million dollars. This means that heart patients, like me, can have the best treatment options and ultimately spend more time with our families.
Benefit and silent auction with a lot of fun to benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness. One in five individuals in the US lives with a mental illness. Mental illness is a brain disorder and there is hope with treatment.
After volunteering with the fun group at the raffle auction table, we all walked away winners in the fight against the stigma of living with mental illness.
NAMI provides education, support, and advocacy not only for those living with mental illness but their family and friends.
I work with the National Alliance on Mental Illness to end the stigma of mental illness. My sister lives with bipolar disorder and she is so much more than her diagnosis.
As a volunteer at the luncheon I encouraged all to participate in the photo booth and express why they walk for NAMI.
From singing to a piano performance to knitting to reciting poetry to a comedy routine, I was honored to introduce so many talented performers!
As a physician, I have seen the tremendous impact the funds raised by the Children's Miracle Network have on the patients and families they support.
As a mom, I can't imagine how difficult it is for these kids and their families to struggle through illness.
I was inspired by so many personal stories that were shared at the telethon and now have a whole list of new heroes I admire! Thank you for letting me volunteer and be a part of this amazing organization!
Congratulations to the Purple Ribbon Gala for raising over $7,000 in the fight against cancer! Thank you to the WNCT 9 News for spotlighting the gala's success!
I had the honor to celebrate those who have survived or are fighting cancer at the first Purple Ribbon Gala for Pitt County that raised $6,986 for cancer research as of Saturday night. Thank you to all those who have been impacted by cancer and shared their inspiring stories with me and my pageant sisters!
On the dance floor at the Purple Ribbon Gala to raise money in the fight against cancer with WNCT 9 News Anchor Maria Satira, Mrs. NC, and Miss Teen Pitt County.
During “No Shave November,” men across the country are letting it grow – from beards to mustaches to hair – raising awareness and funding for cancer research.
As a pathologist who diagnoses cancer and signs death certificates for North Carolina, I know that raising awareness is critical to tackling cancer and preventing cancer-related deaths.
Surgery for heart disease often utilizes blood products. Getting the word out on the importance of blood donation can save lives in patients with not only heart disease but cancer, trauma, mothers giving birth, blood disorders, and other diseases.
Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood. Yet, of the estimated 38 percent of the U.S. population that is eligible to donate, less than 10 percent actually do each year.
Follow Your Heart NC
Posts coming soon!