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Being Her Own Advoacate

One Woman's Story

Picture of Jean B   

Jean had awoken three days in a row with weakness and flu-like symptoms. The fourth day, she had retching and she knew it was her heart. An emergency angioplasty procedure saved her life.

Meet Jean Babey. At age 59 years of age, Jean looked like the picture of health. She had normal blood cholesterol, was very active and never had a weight problem.

Jean developed heart disease symptoms that presented like the flu. Three mornings in a row, Jean experienced "funny spells" with weakness and dizziness. The fourth morning, Jean developed uncontrollable retching with dry heaves. "That's when I knew it was my heart".

Recognizing the serious nature of her condition that begged for a diagnosis, Jean went by ambulance to the best cardiac care center in her area and asked for an EKG. While her request was met with some hesitation, the emergency department staff soon complied and they then realized that Jean was indeed having a heart attack and in serious trouble. An emergency angioplasty with placement of a stent saved Jean's heart muscle from excessive damage. Thanks to her quick action and her ability to have successfully advocated for herself during an acute emergency, Jean continues to live a very active lifestyle. She retired from her job as an administrative assistant as she felt that the related job stress may have led to her developing heart disease.

It is estimated that a third of women experience flu-like symptoms with heart attack without any chest pain at all, so Jean's message is for all women to "listen to your body. Trust your instincts. And insist on the best care for your heart".

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1999-2000; updates: 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007 Women's Heart Foundation, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use prohibited. The information contained in this Women's Heart Foundation (WHF) Web site is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment, and WHF recommends consultation with your doctor or health care professional.