Jacksonville nurse shares story of massive 2015 heart attack: ‘Listen to your bodies’ – Florida Times
Kathy Ellis is a registered nurse at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.
But on a December day in 2015, it was Ellis’ co-workers who realized that what she viewed as mild symptoms — indigestion, followed by back and arm pain — might be life threatening and took her to the hospital’s emergency room. An electrocardiogram, which checks the heart’s electrical activity, showed she had a massive heart attack.
Doctors had to use a defibrillator to shock her heart back to life three times.
That was only an hour after Ellis’ first feelings of indigestion.
She shared her story for the American Heart Association’s annual Go Red For Women campaign, a national movement to end heart disease and stroke in women, which begins Friday with Go Red Day 2017. Her story is one every woman should know, she said.
“Listen to your bodies. We don’t present with the crushing chest pain that men do. And especially if you are diabetic, the symptoms may be mild and vague, like mine were,” Ellis said. “Just pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you … I scared the wits out of my family, co-workers and friends. And having big strong men doing chest compressions on you multiple times and breaking ribs is very painful.
“But I can’t complain. I feel like I was given a second chance,” she said.
Ellis was 60 at the time of her heart attack. At age 40 she was a smoker and was diagnosed with high blood pressure. She quit smoking and began taking medication. And she has always been active, with swimming, tubing and wakeboarding among her hobbies.
Then came Dec. 21, 2015.
“The day that I had my heart attack was a fairly easy day. I was just finishing up … when the indigestion started, then the upper middle back pain, then the inside of my arms at my elbows started aching and I started sweating,” she said. “I also was so tired.”
What happened next in Mayo’s emergency room and catheterization lab is a bit foggy, but she later remembered her husband arriving and telling him she felt like she was going to pass out. She drifted in and out of consciousness as doctors worked to save her life.
“It wasn’t until … I was in a room after it was all over that I realized what had happened and the gravity of the situation,”
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