Brittany's Cardiology Story
On-the-go Louisville mom chooses to slow down after heart issue
Always someone who got things done quickly, Brittany’s heart issue made her slow down and appreciate the smaller things in life.
“Go hard or go home is a motto that I've always lived by. I was the task manager. What am I going to do today? I'm going to knock this off my list. I haven't made a to-do list since August 28th,” said Brittany.
After a day at the office, she left work to exercise and found herself struggling to get through her warmup. “I knew something wasn't quite right. I decided to rest, to give up the workout for the day,” she said. Brittany had dinner with her family, took a shower, and started to have a lot of severe back pain. She felt disoriented with her breath and had an overall feeling of sickness.
With some symptoms that are unique to women in heart attack — neck pain and jaw pain — she went to the ER. It was confirmed within 10 minutes that there was definitely something going on.
At the heart cath lab, Bianca Ummat, MD, Louisville cardiologist, explained the process thoroughly to Brittany.
“Brittany came in with chest pain, and I think she's a good example of a patient who has none of the classic risk factors for heart disease,” said Dr. Ummat.
After inserting the cath, Dr. Ummat saw a blockage and showed it to Brittany who saw it as well.
“It seemed to be just a few minutes of a procedure that obviously saved my life. I worried a lot about my son, this family, how am I going to be able to take care of all of these people that really, really rely on me?” said Brittany. “The morning after the stent was placed, the heart cath was done, Dr. Kemp came to my room and I just kept asking her, is this the beginning of the end?"
“It's hard for anyone to be faced with an event like this, especially something that could take you away from your family, permanently. As a mom, that's a big pill to swallow,” says Jamie Kemp, MD, cardiologist. “You have to recognize that there's going to be a lot of anxiety. There's going to be a lot of sadness. There's going to be a lot of why me, and all of these are very, very valid and very appropriate feelings.”
Heart disease is not just a physical problem. It affects people in other ways, such as emotionally. Patients should focus on things that are within their power to change — eating healthy and exercising — which both play a large role in health and heart health. “I find myself sitting down and listening to my son tell a story. Before I found myself saying, "Tell me later. Hang on. Give me a minute. Can we talk about it later?" You realize that you may not have later, and you start to appreciate it a lot more. What gets my blood pumping is this life I'm living,” says Brittany.