My experience with heart disease started with typical symptoms—I couldn't breathe one night and it felt like there was an elephant sitting right on top of my chest. Not knowing what was going on, I went to the emergency room. The doctors diagnosed me with arthritis of the rib cage behind the heart. I was relieved to hear the explanation—so relieved that I did not hear the doctor advise me to see a cardiologist as soon as possible. Two years later, I was unable to finish climbing a flight of stairs, so I returned to see the doctor again.
By age 43, I had suffered from congestive heart failure and a damaged heart muscle. I also had developed high blood pressure and was seeing a doctor who, fortunately diagnosed my symptoms and provided me with proper treatment.
I am on medication to control my high blood pressure and cholesterol. It took me some time to get my strength back, but now I exercise regularly and eat healthy foods. I keep regular appointments with my cardiologists and other doctors. I haven't had any more complications because of my heart disease.
To me, The Heart Truth is a way of informing women about what they can do to prevent heart disease. I'm active in WomenHeart and I speak to others about how they can deal with heart disease. I also graduated from the WomenHeart Symposium of 2003 and speak to local communities, churches, and support groups about heart disease.