Maria Goll loves being a teacher, but recently she's had to focus less on a textbook and more on a treadmill.
Goll always knew she was at-risk for heart disease. Her father died of acute myocardial infarction as well as many other family members.
Doctors told Goll the trouble with her mitrovalve or aortic valve is genetic because of her family history, Goll has always tried to eat healthy and exercise.
"I walk, I run, I used to bowl, I was an avid boater, deep sea fishing.
I've always eaten healthy, I grew up on a mediterranean diet. I don't eat red meat, I don't eat pork, I only eat chicken and fish and I've been doing that for years" says Goll.
Those proactive measures have kept Goll's cholesterol and blood pressure at normal levels, but it wasn't enough.
"I had two silent heart attacks and never knew I had them, I had no pain" says Goll.
Having a heart attack doesn't mean just crushing chest pain... there are other more subtle symptoms that you may not be aware of.
Local Cardiologist Dr. Samir Patel says typical symptoms are chest pain and shortness of breath, but that actually occurs in about 50 percent of people-- the other half can present very atypically.
Fatigue, weakness, worsening shortness of breath, left arm discomfort, back discomfort, can all be signs of a heart attack."
Women's symptoms are often very different from men. Goll says the only symptom she had was throwing up. She thought she had caught the fly from one of her students. That's one of the symptoms of women not men.
Dr. Patel says Patients at the time may think they have the flu, they may have heart burn for a few days and after a few days they feel better, in all actuality that may be a heart attack."
In Goll's case, doctors discovered she had 90% blockage, and scheduled her for by-pass surgery.
Goll says "I call my new valve Maxine.. it's a pig valve. she's gonna be with me for a while.
I still intend to keep active. I do my therapy and that really builds up your strength faster than you think."
Goll says she believes her healthy lifestyle has kept her alive.
"I think it helped, that's at least made me last this long."
Dr. Patel says it's very important to know your family's medical history.
If anyone in your immediate family has had heart disease then your chances are greatly increased.
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