When I was just 28 years old in 2001, I believed that my health was good. I was a modern dancer, a size 6, and active. I had two young sons and worked for a consulting firm. However, one day I was so worn out that I had trouble ascending the stairs. I reasoned that I must not be in the best of health because I didn’t worry about it enough to call my doctor.
Two days later, I experienced a tingling sensation that began in my leg and moved up one side of my body. This time, however, I was aware that something wasn’t right, and a neighbour drove me to the hospital. I was actually having a heart attack, it turned out.
I was given the diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy at the hospital, a condition in which the heart muscle thickens and enlarges, making it difficult for the heart to pump blood effectively. Arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, or even heart failure could result from it. It is typically inherited as well.
My prognosis came as a complete shock. I was unaware that I needed to be concerned about heart disease before this incident. My grandma had a heart attack when I was a young child, but since she was in her 90s, I never gave it another thought. My family also avoided discussing it.
My mother had hypertension and an enlarged heart, which I only learned about after I had a heart attack. We were actually given the same beta-blocker, a heart drug with multiple uses, including treating or preventing heart attacks. I had no idea about her health because she was always so quiet about it.