Fayetteville, Ga. (February 19, 2014) - When 28-year-old Sharpsburg resident Whitney Hubbell left for work on the morning of Christmas Eve, the last thing she expected was to end up in Piedmont Fayette Hospital’s emergency department fighting for her life.
“The day before, I was going around Cancer Treatment Centers of America singing Christmas carols to patients and caregivers,” said Hubbell, who suffered a major heart attack that, had she waited any longer, could have killed her. “A few days prior, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like my heart was racing but after a few slow breaths, the feeling went away and I went back to sleep thinking nothing of it.”
When she went to work on Christmas Eve, the symptoms became too severe to ignore. Along with the returned feeling of a racing heart, Hubbell experienced pain in her jaw and left arm. She was taken by ambulance to Piedmont Fayette. Initial test results came back normal.
Hubbell spent the night in the hospital and opted to go home and spend Christmas Day (also her father’s birthday) with family before returning to the physician’s office to determine the appropriate next steps.
“Rapid intervention is critical for someone having a heart attack,” said Sashi Guthikonda, M.D., cardiologist with Piedmont Heart. “Without immediate intervention, permanent muscle damage can occur. Time is muscle when dealing with a heart attack. If you think you’re having a heart attack, dial 9-1-1. Don’t attempt to drive yourself to the hospital.”
Each year, heart disease claims the lives of about 74 Fayette County residents. An estimated 2.5 percent of the Fayette population – roughly 2,000 people – currently lives with heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease poses a particular threat to Georgia women like Hubbell and accounts for 28.2 percent of all female deaths. That’s the equivalent of about 27 deaths each day.
“My father, grandfather and uncle all had heart issues before the age of 50,” said Hubbell. “My dad and grandfather had bypasses, and my uncle died at age 36 of a heart attack. Despite this, I will not allow myself to live in fear of heart disease. I am taking the steps that will help me stay healthy and have a better life.”
Someone suffers a heart attack every 34 seconds, according to the American Heart Association. Warning signs include chest discomfort, shortness of breath, discomfort or pain in one or both arms, neck, back, stomach or jaw. Women should also look out for feelings of nausea and of pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest. To take a free, online heart disease risk assessment, visit piedmontheart.org.