At 70 years of age, I was in good health and never thought I’d one day be diagnosed as a person with heart failure (dilated cardiomyopathy).
I had a narrow escape… It was the only organ I didn’t think would be affected. Until that point, my physical condition hadn’t caused any problems as I lived a healthy, balanced life and I didn’t have any known history of cardiovascular disease.
The first symptoms of respiratory distress started in July 2020 with constant aggravation until my ECG in September 2020 (diagnosis: “worn out” heart only working at 15% capacity, edema of the lower limbs). This bombshell news crushed me. I needed emergency hospitalization in intensive care, then treatment and defibrillator implant. After spending three weeks in the hospital, something that was hard since I’d never been hospitalized before and wasn’t taking any medications, I had to accept reality and adjust to the idea that my life would be different going forward.
Today I’m doing better realizing how fortunate I was to have gotten treatment on time and received very good care. I’m still wondering why this disease suddenly appeared and how I got to this point.
I think that I’m part of the generation that rarely goes to the doctor unless they really need to and that doesn’t place a lot of importance on health as long as they are in good shape. This means I hadn’t had any cardiac monitoring, blood tests or check-ups, so I couldn’t know about my genetic problem.
And as a woman who’d been alone since the age of 37, I had to take responsibility for my son’s education, combined with my professional life and managing the household. There wasn’t much room for my personal life. I was constantly stressed due to pressure at work, had frequent emotional outbursts, and pushed myself beyond my limits without knowing it. These all took a toll on my heart, even though I was careful with my body.
This observation and my experience made me think about the importance of understanding and telling others about heart disease, including heart failure, which is becoming more frequent due to the stressful lifestyles we are living. I hope my experience raises awareness about the importance of taking care of yourself and regularly seeing your doctor and cardiologist in order to avoid the worst.
I’m grateful to Women’s Cardiovascular Healthcare Foundation (Agir pour le Cœur des Femmes) for alerting and supporting women and giving us the opportunity to share our stories to save the lives of other women who—like me before my accident—aren’t taking time to get regular check-ups. Listen to yourself and take care of yourself!