Heart Attack Survivor Stresses Importance of Spotting Signs and Symptoms

Guest Column Piedmont Healthcare

Covington, Ga. (February 23, 2018) – Ruby Lewis didn’t think much of the sporadic chest pain she’d been feeling for nearly a week; however, when a doctor at Piedmont Newton Hospital spoke on heart attacks at her church, she began to worry about the symptoms she’d been feeling.

“I’d been having pretty bad chest pain on and off for about a week and was also very tired,” Lewis, a longtime volunteer at Piedmont Newton’s gift shop, said. “When the pain would go away, I’d kind of convince myself it was nothing to worry about. I thought it was maybe a muscular issue in my chest.”

However, when Lewis heard Piedmont Newton’s chief medical officer Norris Little, M.D., speak to members of her church about the importance of heart health and recognizing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, she began to think differently.

“I noticed a lot of similarities between what Dr. Little was speaking on and what I was feeling while sitting there listening to him,” Lewis said. “At that moment, I raised my hand and asked him what someone should do if they’re having these symptoms. He said to go to the emergency room immediately.”

Once in Piedmont Newton’s emergency room, doctors confirmed that Lewis was in fact experiencing a heart attack. She was then transferred to Piedmont Rockdale Hospital, to receive the life-saving cardiology care she needed.

While there, Atul Trivedi, M.D., cardiologist with Piedmont Heart of Conyers, treated Lewis’ heart attack by inserting two stents or tubes into her heart. These stents are used to hold the heart’s arteries open, improving the blood flow of the heart.

“Ms. Ruby’s experience is why it’s so important to educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of a heart attack,” Dr. Trivedi said. “Sometimes symptoms come on intensely and suddenly, but other times the pain or pressure can build up slowly or seem minor. Tightness in your chest, shortness of breath, feeling confused — these are all warning signs of a heart attack.”

If you’re experiencing symptoms that you’ve never had before, such as significant chest pain, Dr. Trivedi recommends going to the emergency room and getting evaluated.

Thankfully, Lewis took action when she did. Now, nearly two weeks since her heart attack, she’s since returned back to her regular volunteer hours at Piedmont Newton. She hopes her story will urge others not to ignore painful or unusual symptoms.

A heart attack occurs when a part of the heart muscle doesn’t receive enough blood flow, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The five major signs and symptoms of a heart attack include pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck or back, feeling weak, chest pain or discomfort, pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder, and shortness of breath.

For more information on cardiovascular issues, visit piedmont.org/heart

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