“Why Me?”: Heart Disease Does Not Discriminate

DISCLAIMER: The following post outlines the writer’s personal journey with heart disease. It is not intended to act as medical advice. As always, please consult your doctor with any questions about your heart health or heart disease.

February is American Heart Month and this month is held near and dear to my heart. Heart disease does not discriminate–nor does it choose who it will target.

Each person’s “healthiest self” is different. We all have different bodies, minds, and people impacting our overall health. Our “healthiest self” isn’t always as it seems and I almost waited too long to take the warning signs of my heart disease seriously.

I ignored most of the signs that I was sick. When I felt the burning in my throat or the pain in my chest during exercise, I did not go to the doctor. I was suffering from tremendous migraines that would leave me blinded in one eye due to the lack of oxygen going to my lungs. Each day I died a little and I didn’t know it. I needed help and waited too long to get it. It wasn’t until I was walking up my steps and I fainted that I took myself to the doctor.

Life-Changing News

In the emergency room, that’s when I received the news that forever changed my life. I had right heart failure, blood clots in my lungs, and a rare lung disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension. I thought they must have had the wrong patient. I’m not the girl with a heart disease. Although I work out five days a week and eat a diet of vegetables and fruits, I was still diagnosed with this awful disease. This was my first realization that heart disease does not discriminate.

After several failed attempts of using aggressive medicines, I was finally given one year to live. If serious intervention measures weren’t taken, I would not survive to see my 40th birthday. Due to my diagnosis, my only options included a double-lung transplant–which only allowed me to survive another five-seven years–or to have a very rare open heart surgery called a thromboendarterectomy.

Considering the open heart surgery was the only shot I had of seeing my son graduate high school or get married, I proceeded. The surgery was a success and I’m here three years later to tell my story. Additionally, I’m also here to warn others of the risks of heart disease.

Take an Inventory

Just like the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP), I also encourage all women to listen to their bodies and speak up about their health. According to the DHDSP, many women in the United States could have avoided heart-related illnesses and death had they recognized the warning signs. And, heart disease is actually the leading cause of death among women in the US.

Please do not be like me and wait until you’re given a death sentence. Although I am one of the lucky ones that was able to have a rare life-saving surgery, most are not. Remember and recognize the signs of cardiac issues according to Go Red For Women, such as:

  • chest palpitations
  • chest pains
  • dizziness
  • extreme fatigue
  • heartburn
  • indigestion
  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • upper neck and back pain
  • vomiting

If you experience any of these symptoms, no matter how small, I’m begging you: please go get checked by a doctor. Heart disease, as stated before, does not discriminate. But there are ways to help keep your heart healthy.

Get Moving 

According to heart.org, there are many ways to help your heart and the most important thing is moving your body for thirty minutes a day. This can be taking a walk, going for a bike ride, or doing yoga. If you’re not used to being active, start slow and work your way up. Doing 10 minutes of activity three times a day is equivalent to 30 minutes at one time. Any movement is better than no movement.

Eating a diet that contains nutrient-dense foods will also help your heart. Try to include a vegetable and a fruit at most meals. Also, work to avoid processed and fast food as much as possible.

Why Me?

Having gone through the trauma of diagnosis, the fear of the unknown, and being given a death sentence, I understand how scary it can be to think of heart disease. In fact, it took me a long time to understand the reality and the severity of my disease. Being only 39 years old, with a perfect BMI, not smoking or doing drugs; why me? The truth of the matter is, there is no reason as to, “Why me?” You too could be next to discover you are one of the hundreds of women in America to be diagnosed with a heart disease.

The good news is, however, that there are so many ways in which heart diseases can be treated today. If you take an inventory of the warning signs and listen to your body, you should be able to live a long life with little to no complications if you get treated quickly. 


According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the treatments are as simple as lifestyle changes and medications but can also include surgery, stents, pacemakers, and ablations. The bottom line is this: heart disease does not automatically mean mortality if we take action early. Advocate for yourself and keep a record of your family history with heart disease. Additionally, keep a record of your past and current symptoms to share with doctors. No symptom is too small when it comes to heart disease.

I wish I would have recognized my symptoms earlier and got the help I needed sooner. I’m a survivor; only by the grace of God am I alive. And I’m here to help others understand and acknowledge the first signs of heart disease. I’m surviving and thriving, and you can too!

Remember to tell all the women in your lives to make a checklist of symptoms and to get checked as soon as possible. You could save their lives by reminding them to be aware of symptoms. And, wear Red in February for those that have suffered from heart disease.  

Taking care of yourself means knowing your body. Megan shares about her Graves Disease diagnosis, and what you should know about your thyroid.


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