The American Heart Association urged every American to “Go Red” Friday to bring awareness to women's risks for heart disease. One KELOLAND woman knows the dangers all too well. Deanna Wilber was just 47 years old when her heart stopped her in her tracks.
Nearly 6 years ago, Deanna Wilber's life changed; it was a change she didn't quite expect.
“You know, it was really surprising that day. I don't know if I did know something was wrong,” Wilber said.
She was a young woman; she and her husband were building a house and she was very active.
“Just all of a sudden from my jaw down into my arm, I had this gripping pain and I knew what it was,” she said.
But like many, she didn't want to believe it.
“I'll never forget the look of my stepdaughter and her husband and their 3 little boys when I announced to them they needed to take me to the ER because I think there's something wrong with my heart,” Wilber said.
The Emergency Room sent her to the Avera Heart Hospital where doctors told her she needed a triple bypass heart surgery.
“One of the arteries, one of the main arteries that was going in to my heart, was blocked almost 99 percent,” Wilber said.
Wilber says she subconsciously knew something was wrong months before. Her energy level was low but she blamed it on stress, something not all that uncommon.
“Trying to lay down and take a nap was very hard on me because my heart felt like it was banging out of my chest and I wasn't paying attention the signs,” Wilber said.
Wilber says that's mostly due to how she was raised.
“I grew up in a time where your parents and your grandparents never talked about illnesses. It was always something you, my goodness, my grandfather just died instantly or the aunt that I had was walking by the courthouse at 45 and died instantly,” she said.
Little did she know there's a very strong history of coronary artery disease in her family.
“I had high blood pressure. That was the one sign that I wasn't paying attention to and I always thought I was a healthy eater, but in my life now I have cut out everything that even remotely looks like it contains a lot of fat,” Wilber said.
And she's still exercising, whether it's playing with her granddaughter or walking.
“Doing fine. I go back in a do my cardiac stress test and I love to hear them tell me 'You're at the top of the 90 percent of women who have never had cardiac issues' and I'm like yea!!” Wilber said.
Looking back, her advice is simple.
“Listen to the signs,” Wilber said.
Wilber finally did and it's why she's here today.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
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