YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Hear from fellow heart attack survivors who have stepped back into their lives

THE HARDEST PART OF MY RECOVERY WAS…

“The fear for my children if my health didn’t improve.”11

Every heart attack survivor has a unique story. But each is motivated to prevent another cardiovascular event for similar reasons: being there for their families and those they love.

In 2019 Bayer®Aspirin in collaboration with Mended Hearts and WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease surveyed 500 heart attack survivors. Respondents said they want to manage their risk of a second cardiovascular event, so they are able to:

Spend time with their spouse

Watch their grandchildren grow up

Spend time with their friends

Watch their children grow up

For Yesenia, addressing her Hidden Risk meant understanding the role her family history played.

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I never thought I would call myself a heart attack survivor, especially at age 43, which is when I had my heart attack. I was a super active person and considered myself the picture of health.

I didn’t recognize what I was experiencing as symptoms of a heart attack. I spent day after day in bed; too fatigued to get up and dealing with nausea, cold sweats and on-and-off vomiting. I couldn't make sense of it all.

When I finally went to an emergency room, they couldn’t make sense of it either because of my age and symptoms. But that fateful day I actually experienced three heart attacks.

Now I know that heart attacks can happen at any age, that the symptoms can be different for women, that family history is a strong indicator of risk. My father had diabetes and died of a heart attack at 64.

I am back to doing the things I love: running, biking and doing yoga. I also take a daily aspirin as directed by my doctor. I love spending time with my grandson. Being there for my family is a huge motivator for me to stay well.

Through my work with WomenHeart I talk to other heart attack survivors like myself every day. For me, Hidden Risk has special meaning for women. Whether you have already had a cardiovascular event or not, I tell women all the time: listen to your body and take the time to understand all your risk factors and things you can do to help control them.”

Agnes lets family be her motivation for managing her Hidden Risk.

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When I had my heart attack it was right in the middle of the holiday season — Dec. 28 — to be exact. I had been entertaining a house full of family and friends from out-of-town.

In the days before I had been really tired, sleeping more than usual and was experiencing some chest pain, but not that extreme pain I would have thought with a heart attack.

I was in New York City, visiting a museum with some of my friends and family, when it actually happened. But even then, I was more worried about being a bad host than realizing I needed to go to the emergency room. I’m thankful that I did go to the emergency room.

The part I remember most about surviving a heart attack is how my family — especially my husband — treated me after. He was super protective, and I think he was afraid of what would happen next. It took him time to realize that I wasn’t an invalid.

I’m doing all the right things to manage my risks of another cardiovascular event. I lost 30 pounds and walk more than three miles a day. I also take a daily aspirin as directed by my doctor.

Through my work with WomenHeart, I know that I’m not alone in what I experienced. For me, understanding the Hidden Risk of another cardiovascular event means understanding it doesn’t just impact you. It impacts your family and friends, too – the same people I was worried about disappointing during the holidays. I let them be my motivation for making sure I manage my risks of a second cardiovascular event.”

Ron’s Hidden Risk story made him think differently about what invincible really means.

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I was one of those men who thought a heart attack wasn’t going to happen to me. I thought I was invincible. Too busy with my career to slow down, on the road a lot and not necessarily taking great care of myself. I wasn’t exercising or eating right.

I was only 54. I had spent the morning with my granddaughter but was feeling a little “off.”

When I got home, I immediately felt worse and my wife noticed that my color was turning grey. She called 9-1-1. At the hospital, I crashed. They ended up performing emergency angioplasty and thought I might relapse.

I basically went into a depression. It was a long recovery but living after a heart attack is a journey – one that doesn’t stop.

For me, it has been about changing my lifestyle – in addition to medications, including an aspirin regimen as directed by my doctor. I retired, changed my diet and started exercising every day.

Mended Hearts, an organization that offers support to heart attack survivors, was part of my journey from the first few days of my recovery in the hospital 15 years ago. I’ve been to every conference and have helped facilitate three different chapter-building workshops. Today, I am serving as president of this volunteer organization.

The best part of this work, though, is sharing what happened to me and helping others understand their own Hidden Risk for a heart attack or stroke. No one is invincible, but my heart attack put me on a different path that has helped me live a healthier life. I want others to hear that message.”

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Start a conversation with your doctor about the certain risk factors you can control and manage.

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