In the spirit of Heart Month I am sharing stories of fellow Heart Attack Survivors that I have met through The Under 55 Heart Attack Survivors Group on Facebook. Everyone has a story and I hope you will take a read and help us create awareness of the #1 Killer in North America.
Today Please meet Lisa Urban Dowling.
Who are you ? Name, current age, where are you from ?
I am Lisa Urban Dowling. I am currently 48. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, but have lived in St. Augustine, FL for the past 25 years
How old were you when you experienced your heart attack?
I was 46
Where were you when it happened? Tell me your story.
I was at home, alone, while my 7 year old daughter spent the week with her dad and his girlfriend. Since it was a holiday weekend (4th of July), I had asked if I could stop by and see her. They decided that it would not be a good idea. I let myself get pretty worked up about the situation. I then decided that I would paint my great room. While I was painting, I was talking to a friend of mine. I all of a sudden felt as if an elephant was standing on my chest. It was very strange and did not really go away. I took my blood pressure (I have had high blood pressure previously during times of stress) and it was WAY high! Like 260/150 high. I decided that it was a faulty reading, and that I needed blood pressure medicine. It was a Friday, so I found some old med in my medicine chest. I had another round of pains two nights later (Sunday). I didn’t have a general practitioner, but I called one and was told that they couldn’t see me until Thursday. I had pains again on Tuesday, but breathed through them and they seemed to lessen. On Thursday, I went to the new doctor. She checked me out, did an ekg in office, saw some abnormalities, called a cardiologist to see me the next day, and sent me to have blood work drawn. That evening she called and said that I showed heart damage and needed to go straight to the hospital. My ex grabbed my daughter, his girlfriend took me to the hospital, and I called my parents who lived out of state to come.
The next morning, I had a heart cath with attempt to stent. My LAD is 100% blocked and could not be removed, but my EF is still at 55 – 58. I have had a Mayo consult, and they agree that I should be medically managed at this point. It was something called SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection) – rare, most common in perimenipausal or post partum women.
What were your signs and symptoms? Did you have any pre existing conditions or family history ?
Not really – some slight hypertension. I got too worked up, Elephant on chest.
How did this affect your life? Physically/ Personally?
I was so tired on the medication, but being a single mom, I really didn’t take much time off. I did cardiac rehab. My cholesterol and everything is fine. I watch what I eat, try to eat Mediterranean and try to stay active. I also let a lot of things go so that I don’t stress.
What lifestyle changes have you made ? What are your struggles ?
I am a little less type A. I also live very in the moment, especially spending time with my daughter.
Stents/ Zipper or Defib ? What is your situation?
None for now. Part of my heart is dead – the distal apex. But dead is dead, so not much that can be done. Will need defib in future if it gives off faulty signals.
What do you fear now ?
Not being here for my daughter.
What are three things that are most important in your post heart attack life?
My daughter, spending time with my family, leaving a positive impact on others.
Did you do Cardiac Rehab? What has been the hardest part of your recovery ?
I did and it was helpful. The weight gain (caused by menopause or medication)
What are your new dreams ?
I want to work at becoming a life coach so that I can help others more. (I taught high school and middle school English for 20 years, and now work as a service and sales rep for a great family owned photography company).
What do you wish you could do now that you never tried before but so wish you could? Eg: Skydiving.
I want to travel more! Paris, Hawaii…
Who was there for you?
My family. The friends I told. My ex and his girlfriend.
Did you lose many people after ?
Several high school acquaintances have died due to heart attacks since mine.
Have you had any detractors or people who have been hard on you?
Not really. I seem so healthy that it is a shock to most.
If you could go back in the past how would you live your life differently?
I wouldn’t! I have lived a great life and made a difference to many, which is how I measure.
What do you want more of in life ?
Peace, fun, time with my daughter, travel, love.
What makes you great ?
My positive, upbeat, helpful spirit.
What advice would you give to a healthy person?
Love your kids, spend time with your loved ones.