Photo by Stars & Stripes Photography
Carly Moore missed an early morning meeting at work one day last winter. Thanks to some persistence and quick action on the part of her boyfriend getting her to St. Mary's Medical Center's Emergency Department, Moore will likely be around for a few more early meetings - and then some.
"I woke up early. Sometime around two or three o'clock in the morning," says Moore. "My back was hurting, right between the shoulder blades," she continued. At the time, Moore and her boyfriend, Jason Evans, were fairly confident she was experiencing only some muscle pain. He rubbed her back. She took some ibuprofen and later some antacids and tried to get back to sleep.
By the time she had showered in preparing for her 8 a.m. meeting at Kennedy’s Jewelers in Blue Springs, where she has been working in marketing the past three years, she was feeling worse. Moore and Evans began reassessing the situation. Moore had experienced anxiety attacks since college and though successfully treated in recent years, she began to feel as though she might be having another.
"Nobody thinks what they’re feeling is a big deal," recalls Moore. Particularly since she was only 25 years old.
That's the problem for women experiencing the onset of a heart attack. While people tend to think of crushing chest pressure (often a male symptom of heart attack) most women have very different symptoms. Flu-like symptoms, upper back pressure, extreme fatigue and what feels like acid reflux are all classic warning signs of heart attack in women. Moore had just about all of them and made it to the Emergency Department with little time to spare.
Much of what happened after Moore arrived in the ER is a blur to her. She was given pain medication but didn’t keep it down and once an EKG and CT scan were accessed, things happened quickly. "I was taken straight to the cath lab (catheterization laboratory) and had two stents placed in my right artery," says Moore.
Narrowing of the carotid artery (atherosclerosis) is a relatively common condition in older patients, but not so common in someone in her twenties.
Learn about a Personal Heart Risk Assessment
Watch our video on what you learn from a Heart Risk Assessment
"I have a family history of heart problems," says Moore, adding "My mother had a stent in her late 40s and she had a brother who died from heart disease when he was in his 50s or 60s." She has heart disease history on her paternal side as well.
The heart attack was a wake-up call for Moore. She faithfully attended the 12 weeks of cardiac rehabilitation and is committed to living a healthier lifestyle. Although she admits it has been a challenge.
"We eat out a lot," confesses Moore. "Jason’s business hours are unpredictable."
Moore has learned to use an application on her smart phone to help her make good food choices when dining out. She also has learned to plan her grocery shopping for the week for menus including less beef and more ground turkey. "You have to plan ahead all the time." says Moore with a sigh.
To make matters more difficult, Moore has never been a very active person and was concerned about what would happen after cardiac rehabilitation. "I was never into sports, never worked out and I didn't know what to do," recalls Moore. She tried a four-week program, but didn't like the trainer, who wanted her to eat the same thing day in and day out and found it hard to hold herself accountable.
"It's even harder after a year, but I've got a new trainer." Moore says happily. "My new trainer, Jennifer, normally works with older patients and genuinely cares about being healthy. Moore often receives text messages from her trainer to encourage her progress and keep her motivated.
"She pushes me harder than I would myself," says Moore who has lost 15 pounds and hopes to lose another 30 to 40. "I really want to do a ‘5k’ this summer—and that helps me stay motivated.”