Television news reporter Jennifer Donelan was just 36 years old when she had a heart attack near the end of a busy day at work last September. Five months after surviving this horrific cardiac event, she’s now back at ABC 7 News in Washington, DC, where she hosted a three-part Heart Month series on women living with heart disease. She explained:
“I wanted to share three reports I did at my station this month about women and heart disease. Two of the three survivors who shared their stories are graduates of the WomenHeart Science and Leadership Symposium.
“We also had a phone bank at our studio and we invited cardiologists, nurses, cardiac rehab experts, and a heart disease survivor and WomenHeart Champion. The phone lines were on fire! I was astonished! There’s still such a need out there, and women have so many questions about our number one killer.
“My sincere thanks to these three women for their courage and willingness to share their stories.”
#1: Marianne Lawrence, a fit, non-smoking vegetarian, was 54 years old and training for a hiking trip to the Himalayas when she was diagnosed with heart disease during a routine medical test. Other than an “on-again and off-again” ache in her left shoulder and what she calls “loud indigestion”, which was unusual for her, Marianne had no obvious cardiac symptoms. Learn Marianne’s story – and find out if she ever did make that trek to the Himalayas.
#2: Beverly Haskins is a 37-year-old mother of two whose early cardiac symptoms were just “fluttering, beating, with some pain in the back of my throat”. But these unusual symptoms didn’t slow her down from doing her Christmas shopping and getting ready for her holiday guests for the next three days. Find out what happened to Bev when she finally decided to seek medical attention for what turned out to be a life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia.
#3: Cindy DeMarco-Franco, who suffered a heart attack at age 30, survived to tell her compelling story. Her description of being ignored by E.R. doctors (one offered her just a muscle relaxant to ease her back, arm and jaw pain!) will sound familiar to women who, like me, were sent home from Emergency with a misdiagnosis. (Women under the age of 55 are, in fact, seven times more likely to be misdiagnosed in mid-heart attack and sent home). Watch Cindy’s message about the importance of “Being Your Own Advocate”.
Learn more about Jennifer’s own compelling story of her heart attack, caused by a rare and often fatal condition called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection – tragically, 80% of SCAD victims are young, healthy women like Jennifer. Her first symptoms started around 5:30 p.m. on September 8, 2010, chillingly illustrated by the 911 call placed by her news broadcasting colleague, live-truck operator Bruce Bookhultz: “My reporter is having a real bad time breathing.”
♥ Have you been diagnosed with Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection? Find out today if you are eligible to participate in two new SCAD studies at Mayo Clinic.