If you’re a parent or grandparent, you’re likely familiar with the saying, “You can never be too sure.” For 45-year-old Angie MacAull from Prince Edward Island, Canada, it couldn’t have been truer. Especially since the strange chest discomfort she experienced were warning her of a far greater health problem.
How Angie MacAull’s Persistence May Have Saved Her Life
One Spring night, Angie had made dinner plans with friends and that’s when she noticed her first unexpected symptoms.
“I went out for supper and I ate, and we were with a few nurses, and I started having this heaviness in my chest, right around my diaphragm area,” she explained. “I explained to them what was happening and they thought it was gall bladder.”
Playing it safe, she cut the night short and took a quick trip to the emergency room at Summerside’s Prince County Hospital. After running a series of tests and checking for a heart attack which came back negative, doctors concluded that her chest discomfort was a result of acid reflux.
“I was humiliated that I would go into the ER for acid reflux,” said Angie. “One thing the doctor said to me before I left was, ‘If it happens again, come in. I don’t mind being proven wrong.’ I was very thankful that he said that.”
On a Similar Evening, It Returned
In the coming days, Angie and her husband Mike had a cruise to catch. Thankfully, the doctors had cleared her, so the two flew to Miami the night before their departure. But again, during dinner, Angie started suffering similar symptoms – only worse.
“I was on the floor crying and my husband took one look at me and said, ‘We’re going home.’”
Angie and Mike immediately flew back home to the same P.E.I. hospital for some more tests. Surprisingly, they returned negative; surprisingly, it was not a heart attack. Fortunately, Angie’s sister-in-law, an ER nurse, had a hypothesis of her own.
She suggested that Angie go for a walk, brisk walk, and a light jog. Whereas the first two physical activities revealed no symptoms, the light jog spurred on something different.
“I went into an attack again and my sister-in-law got me hooked up to an ECG and they caught it,” Angie said. “All 12 leads showed depressions, which indicated something was wrong with my heart.”
That meant bed rest for Angie, who was convinced the problem was rooted in her stomach, until doctors could run a dye test. When the dye test was complete, Angie unpleasantly surprised to learn her heart had eight blockages, one of which was a main artery feeding the left side of the heart.
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So, Angie immediately received a triple bypass open heart surgery…
Just reading those words will freak out the average person, but Angie said: “I wasn’t afraid. I felt I was in the right hands. I just wanted to get it over with and take it on.”
“I had a second chance. Not a lot of people have a left, main blockage, which they call a widow maker, they don’t always get a second change,” she said humbly. “They don’t get advance warning. I was very, very thankful that I listened to my body and that I was persistent with returning to the hospital every time that this would happen.”
With a newfound awareness of her heart condition, Angie admits that she had not been paying close enough attention to the warning signals her body was sending. And now, with a newly adopted baby, that’s something Angie promises she will not do again. In fact, listening to your body is a lesson she plans on passing on to her new daughter.
“We all know our bodies the best and we have to be more in tune with them.”
Angie MacAull’s New Lease on Life
More often than not, movies depict heart attacks as older men gasping, grasping their chests, and hitting the floor. But, as we’ve seen in Angie’s story, heart attack symptoms may not always be that perceptible and it can happen to women, too. She said it herself:
“We…have to be our own advocates. If I had been too embarrassed to return to the hospital or focused on the cruise that we walked away from… I wouldn’t be here. I know that.”
“Everyone was quite taken aback by it. I do feel that it’s an eye-opener for our ER doctors, our specialists here, to realize that it’s not just an old man’s disease.”
According to Dr. Nieca Goldberg, medical director for the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU’s Langone Medical Center and an American Heart Association volunteer, “women can experience a heart attack without chest pressure,” an extremely common heart attack symptom in victims.
“Instead,” Dr. Goldberg continues, “[women] may experience shortness of breath, pressure or pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, upper back pressure or extreme fatigue.”
Ladies, Please Do Not Downplay Any Chest Discomfort!
Whether or not you’re surprised, far too often do women downplay their symptoms to less serious conditions such as the flu, acid reflux, or aging.
4 Warning Signs You’re Experiencing Heart Attack Symptoms
Don’t take these heart attack warning signs lightly…
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, or pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes and comes and goes
- Pain and/or discomfort in stomach, back, neck, jaw, or one or both arms
- Shortness of breath with or without chest pressure
- Breaking out in a cold sweat or feeling nauseous or lightheaded
If you do experience any of these signs, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital as fast as possible.
How to Prevent Heart Attacks and Other Life-Threatening Heart Conditions
- 8 Foods Anyone Who Does Not Want a Heart Attack or Stroke Should Start Eating Immediately
- 13 Things You Had No Idea Could Trigger a Heart Attack
- 3 Nutrients That Could Save You from a Deadly Heart Attack
- Study Finds Turmeric Can Slash Your Heart Attack Risk by 56%
- Lower Your Heart Attack Risk by 32% with These 45-Second Infused Water Recipes
 Yarr, K. (2018, February 01). ‘Thought it was gall bladder’: 45-year-old P.E.I. woman surprised by deadly heart problem. Retrieved February 05, 2018, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/pei-angie-macaull-heart-disease-1.4513923
 (n.d.). Retrieved February 05, 2018, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/WarningSignsofaHeartAttack/Heart-Attack-Symptoms-in-Women_UCM_436448_Article.jsp#.WnjKu6inHIU
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