Who: Sue Andrews, 53, Cleveland
Key heart attack symptoms: dizziness, intermittent achiness and weakness
Her story: "It happened three years ago, around 9:30 on a normal Monday morning. I had just begun giving a presentation to my colleagues when I noticed I was becoming very dizzy and clammy--almost like you'd feel if you were having an anxiety attack. I also felt pressure in my chest, which then subsided and morphed into a pain across my shoulder blades. That's weird, I thought. I'm not nervous or anxious, so I guess I'm just coming down with something. I went ahead with my presentation, trying to hurry it a bit because I wanted to get it over with. At one point I had to pull up a chair and sit down to alleviate the dizziness. Apparently I hid my distress well because a number of my coworkers later told me they never suspected anything was wrong.
"I finally wrapped up the meeting about 40 minutes later. Still feeling strange, I went to the office kitchen, got myself a glass of water and made my way back to my desk. When the feeling didn't pass, I called my husband and said, 'I think I must be getting some kind of flu. I'm going to head home and go to bed.' He offered to pick me up instead."
"Fortunately, my husband insisted I see a doctor. So we went to a local walk-in clinic, where the physician on duty listened to my symptoms and performed an EKG. The results were 'slightly off,' he said, so he instructed me to go to the emergency room for some blood tests. No one mentioned anything to me about the possibility of a heart attack.
"I got to the E.R. around 12:30. After repeating my symptoms at the checkin desk, I was informed I'd have to wait my turn. So I tried to make myself comfortable in the waiting room as I watched people come and go. When a man came in with chest pains, they rushed him in ahead of everybody. I looked at him, thinking, I wonder if he's having a heart attack--never believing that I might be, too. Fully three hours after I arrived, they called me in. I repeated everything to the nurse. A team took blood samples and started doing lots of tests. Finally a doctor came in and announced, 'We're going to admit you. You've had a heart attack.' I don't know which is more incredible--that it took so long for me to get a diagnosis, or that I survived the wait."
Continued on page 8: Next Page