My symptoms were different than any other symptoms I have heard or read about.
It started at work in January 2001. A typical day. Where I worked we had to go upstairs to use the ladies restoom. Well I was having shortness of breath going up the stairs. Each time I went up. Having asthma, I thought I was just having a bad day with my breathing.
This went on for about a month. Then I started getting a burning feeling across my shoulders. All the way across, from one to the other, but up high, near my neck. I never felt anything like it before. It wasn’t pain, just burning. If you know your body, you know when something isn’t right. OK, maybe I’m a little slow by letting it go on for a month. But I dismissed it as my asthma acting up.
We all know the classic symptoms i.e., crushing chest pain, dumbness in your left arm, etc. Because of what I’ve read and the classic symptoms my sister had when she had her stroke, I never even thought it was my heart.
I finally made a doctor appointment with my family doctor. He ordered a stress test. The kind where they start an IV, take pictures and it takes hours. Nuclear stress test: This test helps to determine which parts of the heart are healthy and function normally and which are not. A very small and harmless amount of radioactive substance is injected into the patient. Then the doctor uses a special camera to identify the rays emitted from the substance within the body; this produces clear pictures of the heart tissue on a monitor. These pictures are done both at rest and after exercise. Using this technique, a less than normal amount of thallium will be seen in those areas of the heart that have a decreased blood supply.
As soon as the cardiologist saw the pictures he wanted to call an ambulance. Since the hospital was only down the street I told him I would rather my husband drive me. (After all, I needed a cigarrete). He agreed as long as we went straight to the hospital. We did. From that hospital they ambulanced me to Deborah Heart & Lung Center, NJ where they did angioplasty inserting a stent in my Left Anterior Descending (LAD) artery. Turned out it was 95% blocked. This was February, 2001.
Six months later I had to have it done again because scar tissue covered the stent and it was clogged again.
I moved to Phoenix, AZ and had the same surgery in May, 2003, but this time they put a stent in my Circumflex Artery (CX).
I moved to Las Cruces, NM and had the same surgery in Dec. 2006, but this time in my proximal LAD.
My point: If you are not feeling well, please visit your doctor as soon as possible.
This was all a shock to me. I was only 46 years old the first time it happened.