Florence heart attack survivor offers heart advice to women
For Lorene Godbold of Florence, the day she had her heart attack was like any other day. She was getting ready for work while her kids were getting ready for school.
“I had no warning sign,” explained Lorene. “My chest just started to hurt.”
A social worker at McLeod Regional Medical Center, Lorene has been working in health care since 1998. She knew what she was experiencing wasn’t normal.
“My fear was that it was a heart attack, but I also was in denial that it couldn’t be happening to me,” said Lorene.
Not wanting to worry her children, she sent them on to school and called her husband, asking him to meet her at the McLeod Emergency Department. Blood work confirmed that Lorene had experienced a heart attack.
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, and no one doubts what is happening. But most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people aren’t sure what is wrong and wait too long before getting help. Here are signs from the American Heart Association that can indicate a heart attack:
• Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
• Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
• Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
• Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
“I experienced the classic signs of a heart attack,” said Lorene. “It started as heaviness in the middle of my chest, like an elephant sitting on my chest that people often describe. It then radiated across my neck and down my arm.”
Cardiovascular disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined, but 80 percent of cardiac events in women may be prevented if women made the right choices for their hearts involving diet, exercise and abstinence from smoking. Don’t ignore heart problems.
“Dr. Fred Krainin with McLeod Cardiology Associates was the cardiologist who took care of me that day, performing my heart catheterization,” said Lorene. “Dr. Krainin said I probably had a blood clot that passed through my heart causing my heart attack, and I was lucky I had no permanent damage from it.
“My heart attack has been an eye opener for me. It happened to me. It can happen to you. It can happen to anyone. As women we get busy with our lives, taking care of everyone but ourselves. And on some days, to make sure you don’t become one of the American Heart Association’s statistics, you need to tell yourself that it is okay to put yourself first,” added Lorene.
Call 9-1-1. Get to a hospital right away. Calling 9-1-1 is almost always the fastest way to lifesaving treatment. Emergency medical services (EMS) staff can begin treatment when they arrive, up to one hour sooner than if someone gets to the hospital by car. The staff are also trained to revive someone whose heart has stopped.
If you need assistance in managing your heart condition the cardiologists at McLeod Cardiology Associates can help. Same-day appointments are available for new patients at the McLeod Cardiology Associates Florence office. Patients who call 843-667-1891 before noon will see a McLeod cardiologist that day. Patients who call past noon will be offered a next-day appointment. McLeod Cardiology Associates is located at 101 William H. Johnson Street, Suite 600.