By: Monica Fritsch
According to the American Heart Association, one in three women die from heart disease each year. This is one woman every 80 seconds. The symptoms can be different in women and men and are sometimes misunderstood.
“I actually thought I had pulled a muscle from moving furniture,” says NewCov CrossFit member, Sue Myers.
Myers, who suffered a heart attack in September of 2015, said she didn’t start to feel real concern until three days later. Once her husband and the paramedics arrived, Myers walked to the ambulance and was hooked up to an EKG (electrocardiogram) machine. Something severe was happening and she was immediately taken to The Christ Hospital.
“I can’t praise them enough,” Myers says. “They didn’t mess around at all and a little over two hours later, I had been to the cath lab, stented and settled in a room.”
The LAD (Left Anterior Descending) artery is according, to Myers, the most important of someone’s three arteries. Myers says it typically supplies over half of the heart muscle with blood. Her LAD artery was 100 percent blocked, a condition which is often referred to as “The Widow Maker.”
“I was told if not for a stray vein further down from my blockage coming from the right side, I probably wouldn’t be here.”
Also according to the American Heart Association, 80% of heart disease and stroke events may be prevented by lifestyle changes and education. With that information, Myers drastically changed her nutrition habits. She eliminated red meat, pork products, processed foods and cheese. Her sodium intake is restricted to 1500mg per day and she eats a lot of plant-based foods, salmon, and chicken breasts.
She lost 60lbs, but still wasn’t able to find a fitness routine that worked for her.
After being persuaded by her daughter, Meghan, Sue participated in NewCov CrossFit’s’ New You Challenge in the summer of 2017 and shortly, after that, started taking Em’s Fitcamp classes.
“Meghan likes to keep me accountable always, asking when and if I went to work out.”
Given her heart condition, she was nervous at first. However, with the permission of her cardiologist and encouragement from good friend, Jackie Wagner, she faced her fears and became healthier and more confident. Her stamina has improved and she has more energy.
“I know I still have some limitations but I’m not afraid to do things now,” Myers says.
The main limitation Myers has is she has to take it slow on burpees, to avoid getting lightheaded. She’s not discouraged by it though.
“I can hang right along with the rest of the class most days.”
Not only can Myers “hang right along,” with her classmates, she stands out to her coaches. She is Em’s Fitcamp current Member of the Month and attributes a lot of her success to the support she receives from fellow NewCov CrossFit members.
“There’s always someone there to push you to do your best even when you don’t feel like being there, and to encourage you to keep going when you’re ready to drop.”
Myers encourages people to learn the symptoms of a heart attack, as they aren’t always chest-grabbing pains. She also says that getting checked out right away is crucial. Heart disease is hereditary for her. Both of her parents had quadruple bypass surgery, high blood pressure, and cholesterol. Two of her three siblings had fatal massive heart attacks.
“I always thought I would get high blood pressure and high cholesterol first, not go straight for the heart attack.”
If you do suffer a heart attack, Myers says that participating in programs such as Em’s Fitcamp, is a great way to recover and build a healthier lifestyle.
“You have to start somewhere and, as long as they listen to their body, they should have no problems.”