One woman's heart attack story and the continued push to 'Go Red'

By Marshanna Hester

February 1, 2013 Updated Feb 1, 2013 at 11:58 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- In 10 years, more than 627,000 women have been saved because of the Go Red for Women movement.

The power of the red dress is spurring progress in the medical world and change among the most vulnerable of heart disease, which kills one in three women each year.

"I was home on a Saturday night, just taking it easy. I thought I had really bad heartburn," said Heather Boyd, a heart attack survivor.

"It's the first heart attack so you don't really know what to expect," said Dr. Yogesh Agarwal, a Cardiologist at HeartCare Midwest

"It's my understanding when I was in there. I went into cardiac arrest and they had to shock me 4 times," continued Boyd.

Dr. Agarwal added, "One of her arteries was completed closed so we opened it up and put a stint in there."

"They all saved my life that night," recalled Boyd.

Boyd is one of the lucky ones. She was 37 years old at the time of her heart attack, and chose to ignore the family history that put her at high-risk for heart disease.

"My grandma passed at 48 because of a heart attack. My mom was 37 when she had triple by-pass, now she has congestive heart failure," said Boyd.

Dr. Agarwal said it catches him off guard when a young woman like Boyd experiences a heart attack.

But he's relieved to know more women are taking control of their lives thanks to the awareness of the Go Red campaign. He said the use of risk prediction models is a big part of that. It helps patients see how a lifestyle change can make all the difference.

"If I have a smoker who comes in and change their number, make them a smoker to a non-smoker, the risk goes from 15 to 3 percent. They can see that you can make the change," said Dr. Agarwal.

The medical community wants to make changes too. Over the next 10 years, Dr. Agarwal hopes therapy becomes less generalized and more specific for each patient.

But to catch the disease, treat it and prevent it, he says women have to practice what they preach.

"Routinely you see women urge husbands or brothers to go and get checked, but not do it themselves. We need to change some of that mindset," he said.

Boyd's heart attack scare opened her eyes. She kicked the habit, works out and eats healthier.

And though she wasn't aware of Go Red for Women before 2011, Heather is now dedicated to spreading the message of survival, "It's taking a lot of women's lives. If you're at risk, if your family has heart disease just go get checked and make sure everything is ok. So you don't have the problem I did a year ago."

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.