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Survivor Profile: Angie Vallance

Survivor Profile: Angie Vallance

It was May 2011 when registered nurse Angie Vallance experienced intense dizziness while at work. “I sat down and was talking to my manager,” she recalls. “All of a sudden, I had this intense dizzy spell.” It went as quickly as it came, and Angie thought all was OK.

But her colleagues – she works with the heart specialists at King’s Daughters Cardiology – wouldn’t let it go. They insisted on checking her blood pressure, which Angie admits was “up a little bit.” Then they pushed an EKG on her. One of her co-workers “just stayed on me about it,” Angie recalls.

The EKG was abnormal. Physician assistant J.D. Dalton saw Angie and ordered a stress test, blood work and an echo of her heart the following week. “Everything was abnormal,” Angie recalls. Shortly thereafter, Angie was taken to the cardiac cath lab for treatment. She anticipated getting a stent or two and being on her way.

That’s not how it turned out.

Angie needed bypass surgery. Cardiothoracic surgeon Robert Fried, M.D., was consulted and her surgery scheduled. Following the procedure, Angie remembers recovering in the CVICU. “Dr. Fried walked by my room and I held up three fingers,” she said. She wanted to know – triple bypass? “Dr. Fried held up five fingers.”

All from a dizzy spell. “Looking back on it, I might have had a little shortness of breath, but it really wasn’t enough to think about,” Angie said. “I had an excuse for everything. I was older. I’d put on a little weight. You know.” If not for that dizzy spell at work – and the insistence of her colleagues that she get checked out – Angie’s story could have had a very different outcome.

Warning signs of a heart attack vary – and not everyone experiences all of them. Dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath and extreme fatigue are important warning signs in women. Men often experience pain, pressure or a crushing sensation in the chest. Pain may radiate down one or both arms.

The important thing to remember is to get help immediately if you experience any of the signs of heart attack. Early intervention can completely change the outcome – for the better.

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