A message from a woman recovering from cardiac arrest: 'Question if something feels off'

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Woman died then lives to promote of heart health after cardiac arrest
A cardiologist ABC13 spoke with says heart disease is killing women, and one of the reasons could be the misconception that it only affects men. Hear from a woman who survived cardiac arrest.

The number one cause of death for women is heart disease, according to experts, and one cardiologist says it could be because of the misconception that it only affects men.

ABC13 spoke with Terri Owens, who suffered cardiac arrest and has a message for others.

"I started breathing a little odd and I gurgled, and then there was nothing," she said.

Owen didn't even have a pulse. She died and lived to tell her story.

"He said that he saw them shock my heart three times trying to bring me back, and they finally shooed him out the room," Owens said of her husband, Doug.

Doug is Owens' high school sweetheart and one of the men she credits for saving her life. It was August 9, 2023 when she went to bed because of "intense chest pain" after taking medication for a sinus infection. With no family history of heart disease or ever having experienced any other symptoms, Owens said it was quite traumatic having been intubated and suffering memory loss once she woke up from it all.

"I mean, I really feel better.. This has just been a whole sequence of miracles in my life," she said.

According to the American Heart Association, a staggering 90% of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, don't survive.

Owens also credits Dr. Ahmed Ansari with giving her a second chance at life. Dr. Ansari was on call the night Owens was rushed to the hospital.

"We found that she had a blockage in her right artery, 100% blockage," Dr. Ansari said.

He put two stents in her heart that night.

"We got it open, and surprisingly, she did really well and she's back to work in living a normal life," Dr. Ansari said.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., and women are more likely than men to be affected since sometimes symptoms aren't detected and often go untreated.

"My mom in particular, she has heart disease and the only symptom she has was that when she walked she would get jaw pain. We see these atypical symptoms more so in female patients," Dr. Ansari shared.

Other atypical symptoms may include discomfort in the stomach, shoulder or arm pain, and trouble breathing while walking a short distance.

Owens said that while she didn't experience any of the above symptoms, she still has a message for others: "If we start feeling anything that feels off, question it. Ask your doctor and find out what's going on. I thought that I should've questioned it once I felt better, but no, I should've had him take me to the hospital immediately."

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