[JOURNEE MONDIALE DU COEUR] When she had her heart attack, Sabrina’s symptoms were not recognized by the rescue teams as those of a myocardial infarction. 18 months later Sabrina crunches life. But one mission drives it now: to inform women.
“It’s 3:30 a.m. that night in January 2021 when a violent pain between my shoulder blades wakes me up suddenly. I’m like stabbed for about two minutes, followed by a feeling of tightness in my chest. and intense intestinal pain, worthy of a big digestive disorder. I vomit the coffee prepared by my husband, while tingling invades my jaw. I’m a thousand miles from thinking of a heart attack, because I don’t have the classic radiating pain in the left arm. And, above all, I am the antithesis of a heart attack, I have no risk factors: I am thin – 64 kg for 1.80 m -, I walk 30 km per week, I eat healthy, neither fatty nor salty, I have no cholesterol and I am very active.The only downside is 3 to 4 cigarettes a day.
In fact, at the time, I did not know that women sometimes had atypical symptoms: nausea, dizziness, digestive disorders, fatigue. Also, I’m about to swallow paracetamol to go back to bed as soon as possible, because I only have 2 hours left before I get up, when my husband interrupts me: “No way! I’m calling the Samu. Your symptoms remind me of your sister.”
Sylvie, in fact, died 10 years ago, at the age of 36, of a heart attack, but she had felt pain in her left arm. On the phone with 15, my husband must insist, because, given my age, the diagnosis leans towards stress, anxiety or back pain caused at work, because I am a versatile employee in a supermarket.
Everything is accelerating, in cardiology then in intensive care
In the ambulance of the Samu, on the way to the hospital, I end up wondering myself, by dint of hearing: “Are you sure you’re not nervous?” I am necessarily a little, like all mothers, who work full time, who have meals to prepare, a house to keep and a budget to manage! But, suddenly, the agitation mounts around me. I will learn later that my level of troponin, a protein which allows to evaluate the suffering of the heart muscle, is excessively high, even explosive. In the hospital, I feel the stab again and my electrocardiogram goes all over the place.
“You have a myocardial infarction, we transfer you to the CHU” a doctor told me. A fear seized me immediately: sinking irreparably into a coma, like my sister, without having been able to speak to my husband, my two daughters and my parents, because I don’t have my phone. At the CHU, I just have time to tell my husband: “You have to promise me to take good care of my children, just in case…” that everything is accelerating, in cardiology then in intensive care.
A genetic cause is suspected
Part of the apex of my heart has been deprived of blood and oxygen, the tissues are 43% necrotic. The treatment I receive corresponds in part to that of today to prevent recurrence: an antiplatelet agent to thin the blood and prevent the formation of clots; cholesterol-lowering statins and a beta-blocker to lower blood pressure. In the absence of risk factors, a genetic cause for my infarction is suspected, the analyzes are still in progress. A month and a half later, I began several weeks of cardiac rehabilitation. Crucial for learning how far to push my heart, how to re-muscle it and to measure my efforts with the after-effects. I am very out of breath and I have completely lost confidence in my body.
When on a walk, my heart races as I climb a hill, fear overwhelms me: “Am I going to die here?” It’s very difficult. Nevertheless, four months later, I return to work and my life. “A warrior!” say the doctors. Fear of recurrence? I’m still working on it… I practice mindfulness meditation, which is very life-saving. I am very surrounded, my heart fills where it has suffered.
I absolutely want to say to women: “Listen to yourself if you’re having symptoms. If you’re told, ‘It’s a panic attack,’ follow your instincts, trust yourself, and insist on being taken care of.”What saved me was my husband’s reaction and my sister’s death. Sylvie allowed me to still be alive.
To read : My fight for women’s heartss, Pre Claire Mounier-Véhier (ed. Marabout)
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