Paint the Town Red

Posted On January 31, 2015

Sometimes, a heart attack finds a most unusual subject. Pay attention to the signs and act quickly.

By Catherine Ramsey

 American Heart Association Midlands SC

Stacey Derrick was not who you would consider a typical heart patient. She was a 37 year old woman, juggling work, being a wife, and being a mother to a 4 year old son, Reid, and a 6 week old son, Brett.

One evening while she was sitting on the floor with her four year old and feeding the newborn, she felt sick. The sickness progressed into a painful squeezing sensation around her heart, then a cold sweat, and an inability to sit or lie down comfortably. Stacey told her husband to call 9-1-1. By the time the ambulance arrived, she was embarrassed and convinced she should stay home because she was going to make her husband late for work. After the paramedics told her she had no choice, she was placed in the ambulance. She looked back to the front porch to see disbelief in her husband's face, and her mother in law holding her newborn in one arm and holding the hand of her 4 year old, crying for his mommy, in the other.

Once at the hospital, Stacey’s embarrassment turned to fear when she was told she’d had heart attack. It was called a Post-Partum Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection. She was taken immediately into the heart catheterization lab. The technology in that room was amazing; what they found was not. Stacey was told she would need three stents to repair the damage to her heart. She now has three end to end stents in her heart (one for each of the men in her life).

For most women, the day you graduate, the day you get married, or the day your children are born are the most cherished in your life. But for Stacey, the day she cherishes most is not the day she was told she was going to live, but the day she realized she wasn't going to miss her child's first steps, hearing his first words, or taking him to his first day of school. Thanks to the amazing research advances, educational programs, and medical breakthroughs funded by the American Heart Association, Stacey will be there for many more milestones.

This February, National Heart Month, Stacey will join the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women movement to raise awareness in the fight against heart disease in women. Last year, more than 300 Midlands businesses participated in the annual Paint the Town Red campaign by allowing AHA volunteers to paint red dresses on their storefront windows to show support of the No. killer of women- heart disease. This year, the American Heart Association is encouraging all Midlands residents and businesses to participate in the Paint the Town Red campaign and light up the Midlands RED in support of the Go Red For Women movement.

Editor’s Note: To find out how you can participate in Paint The Town Red or for more information about the American Heart Association and Go Red For Women, please call 806.3091 or visit www.facebook.com/MidlandsAHA

Heart Attack Symptoms in Women

  1. Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest.  It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
  2. Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  3. Shortness of breath with our without chest discomfort.
  4. Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort.  But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.